amazon store

Screenshot: amazon/YouTube

Until now, skipping the line at the grocery store has meant using a self-checkout machine or shopping online. But tech giant Amazon is ready to take it a step further. At a new Amazon Go grocery store at Seventh Avenue and Blanchard Street in Seattle, shoppers can come in, pick out what they want and leave without going through a cash register.

With “Just Walk Out” technology, the Amazon Go app can automatically detect when products are taken from or returned to shelves in the store, keeping track of them in a virtual cart. Shoppers can leave as soon as they are done and receive a receipt and charge on their Amazon account shortly after.

Video: amazon/YouTube

The store features ready-to-eat meals and snacks prepared by on-site chefs and local bakeries. There are also staples such as bread and milk, and fancy items like high-end cheese and chocolate.

For now, the store is only open to Amazon employees participating in a beta testing program. The Seattle Times reported that at lunchtime on December 5th, the first day of the program, the sidewalk outside Amazon Go was crowded with those participants clutching orange bags. The store is expected to be open to the public in early 2017.

Amazon shares closed up 2.57 percent on Monday to trade at $759.36, widely outperforming the market. Even so, some skeptics have argued that the store is not anywhere near ready to open to the public — they believe it’s simply a publicity stunt to promote other Amazon products ahead of the holidays.

If the skeptics are wrong, big changes could be coming for shoppers. Amazon could sell its technology to existing retailers, leading to the creation of even more stores where customers can “Just Walk Out.” And depending on how popular it becomes, the system could even start to replace cashiers.

As the latest Amazon brick-and-mortar store in Seattle after the success of Amazon Bookstore, Amazon Go definitely has the potential to revolutionize the retail experience.

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