Amazon opens first checkout-free store in west London

Customers are able to scan as they go and are billed when they leave

The Amazon Fresh store in Ealing, west London

A physical Amazon store has opened in London's Ealing that offers shoppers a grocery service without checkouts.

The 2,500 square foot facility is the first of its 'Go' stores to be launched outside of the US, but it follows the 'Amazon Fresh' branding in the UK.

The store opened at 7 am on Thursday, with shoppers able to find everyday ingredients and ready meals without any queues or interactions with a shop assistant. The service is app-based and uses the same types of technology that can be found in self-driving cars, according to Amazon.

The system is called is 'Just Walk Out Technology' and it uses cloud computing advancements such as sensor fusion and deep learning algorithms to identify what shoppers put in their baskets. This is then automatically calculated and paid for when the user exits the building.

Sensors in both the shop and on a customer's smartphone are used to build and monitor a geofence - a virtual parameter in a physical area - which not only identifies what users pick or put down but also helps to control the store's inventory systems.

The first Amazon Go store, which was a prototype in Seattle, was delayed after the tracking technology initially had problems monitoring multiple users or objects at the same time.

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The tech giant now has 26 'Go' stores across the US, as well as its new site in the UK.

The store has also managed to open despite the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, although it is currently working with a reduced maximum occupancy of 20 customers. The floor has also been marked with reminders for face coverings and maintaining social distancing and there are PPE and disposable gloves available at the entrance for all visitors.

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