Amazon Go rolls out cashier-less shopping in the Loop

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After checking into the shop upon entry with the Amazon Go app, cameras record whatever they take off the shelves, eliminating the need for checkout. | Jane Recker/Sun-Times

There’s an anecdote Amazon Go Vice President Gianna Puerini likes to tell: An office worker in Seattle had just three minutes to get to their next meeting and grab lunch. Thanks to groundbreaking technology that eliminates the need for cashiers, the employee was able to swipe in to their nearby Amazon Go, leave with a sandwich and drink without waiting to pay and make it to the meeting on time.

The newest installment of the revolutionary re-thinking of the convenience mart will open in Chicago Monday at 113 S. Franklin St. This the only Amazon Go currently outside of Seattle and the fourth overall.

Targeted at busy office workers that need food in a pinch, Amazon Go chose the Loop to cater to time-crunched business workers. Once opened, the store will be further tailored to Chicagoans needs,Puerini said.

“Customers tell us with what they buy what’s working and what’s not,” Puerini said. “Like anywhere, they vote with their wallet.”

Apart from more upscale food choices and design, Amazon Go looks like any other convenience store. What makes it unique is its technology.

When customers enter, they scan a barcode from their Amazon Go app on their smartphone. From there, customers are tracked by computer vision on the ceiling that records whatever they take off the shelves. When they’re done, they walk out – no lines or payment necessary.

Amazon opened Chicago’s first cashier-less Amazon Go convenience store Monday at 113 S. Franklin St. | Jane Recker/Sun-Times

Amazon opened Chicago’s first cashier-less Amazon Go convenience store Monday at 113 S. Franklin St. | Jane Recker/Sun-Times

Puerini assured there was no facial scanning or biometrics used in the technology; rather, the technology associates individuals as “entities” connected with their accounts and tracks what items are picked up and by whom.

“It’s actually pretty similar to what you might find in self-driving cars that enables a self-driving car to know ‘there’s a person, I should stop,’” Puerini said.

In addition to some basic necessities and snacks, the store is stocked with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all made and delivered fresh daily. Breakfast and lunch options, ranging from yogurt and fruit to sandwiches and salads, feature items from Amazon’s chefs as well as items from local companies.

For dinner, Amazon Go has ready-to-cook dinners that promise dinner for two “from box to table in about 30 minutes.” Featuring options like orzo risotto and five-spice chicken for about $17, Puerini said there will be a rotating range of dishes with at least one vegetarian choice.

“Everything is pre-prepped, and then you go home and do the fun parts,” Puerini said. “We worked really hard to keep the mess low, so that it really feeds that convenience value proposition. People are really time-pressed, and they have better things to do with their time (than chop vegetables).”

Of course, the elimination of waiting in line also eliminates cashier jobs. However, Puerini said there will be new jobs created to make up for those lost. Associates will assist customers with the scanning process, restock product, and prepare and deliver food.

Puerini added all employees will have competitive wages and benefits, and that “store leaders on the front lines” are given the responsibility to shape the store to best meet the needs of customers.

“People are a super important part of this experience; we just think they can be doing higher value things for customers,” she said. “It’s less about job elimination and more about putting people on things that add more value to customers.”

Breakfast and lunch options, ranging from yogurt and fruit to sandwiches and salads, feature items from Amazon’s chefs as well as items from local companies. | Jane Recker/Sun-Times

Breakfast and lunch options, ranging from yogurt and fruit to sandwiches and salads, feature items from Amazon’s chefs as well as items from local companies. | Jane Recker/Sun-Times

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