Amazon Go companion app launches ahead of physical store opening

The company's checkout-free store opens today in Seattle

Amazon has launched the companion app for its new brick-and-mortar retail store, Amazon Go, ahead of the store's opening today in Seattle.

The company has turned heads by becoming the first retailer to do away with physical checkout processes, which could lead to significant cost, labour and maintenance savings. Rather than using actual checkout staff, or even automated self-checkout machines, the Amazon Go store will use advanced machine learning to automatically detect which items shoppers have picked up and deduct payment accordingly.

The companion app for Amazon Go revealed a number of interesting details about the store and how it operates. For example, multiple family members can check in to the store using the same device. This ties them to the same basket, so if a customer checks in a small child using their phone, anything they grab off the shelves will be added to the shopper's cart.

The concept has the potential to revolutionise retail technology, as it would allow stores to operate with a smaller staff, as well as freeing up more floor space by getting rid of checkout lanes, automatically generating data on stock levels and even potentially reducing shoplifting.

However, experts said that this isn't going to spell the end of traditional shopping.

"Though we are entering a new age of retail, bricks and mortar stores aren't simply going to disappear in the blink of an eye," said Anil Gandharve, global head of retail and manufacturing at Mindtree.

"Instead, we can expect to see the next generation of customer engagement being delivered through the widespread deployment of emerging technologies. In doing so, this will enable retailers to better understand certain purchasing decisions, provide data-driven answers to understanding key market trends, and, crucially, understand the catalysts for success."

The Seattle location will serve as a pilot for such endeavours, and Amazon has said it currently has no plans to move beyond this single store. However, in future it could roll the technology behind Amazon Go out to the 400 physical stores that it acquired as part of its $14 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market last June.

Image: Shutterstock

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