‘Thanks for Shopping’ — UPDATED

No Apu joke here. From the LATimes:

Amazon Go is the company’s most ambitious effort to change the way people shop in stores and a play for the struggling $550-billion U.S. convenience store industry. Amazon hopes the cashier-less technology will help it stand out from the nation’s 150,000 convenience stores where traffic jams can form at the checkout counter. It’s all part of the company’s larger brick-and-mortar ambitions, which include a stepped-up push into groceries with the Whole Foods Market acquisition as well as the opening of about a dozen bookstores in such cities as Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

To enter the Amazon Go store, customers download a smartphone app and scan a QR code to open a glass turnstile. Those shopping in a group scan the account holder’s phone once for each person entering, and sensors will associate them with that account. From there, machines take over, watching the items plucked from shelves and adding them to a shopping cart. Shoppers are billed once they leave and if there are any mistakes or the customer isn’t happy with an item, the customer pushes a “refund” button to have that item removed from the bill. Shoppers don’t have to return an unwanted item to the store to get a refund.

It’s here in Seattle, and while it sounds utopian and very modern, ask yourself the engineer’s eternal question: What problem am I trying to solve?

The spin is in the paragraph at the top, traffic jams can form at the checkout counter, but I doubt Jeff Bezos really cares that much about the convenience of the customer, he cares about his bottom line. Having fewer (low wage) employees is always his goal. He’ll have one person per (long) shift stocking the shelves BEHIND the fridge doors and probably one (contract) security guard to prevent looting. In the picture in the LATimes you see a person who looks like security guard staring at the gates.

Now, imagine all the other places where entering a building could be charged to your account: movie theaters, amusement parks, why, just about all the places where people go for fun and where entry-level, low skill/low wage people work.

Whoever gets Amazon’s HQ2, you will get these things, too. Be aware that besides giving them all those tax breaks, you are also giving them your jobs. And yes, you too can become Jeff Bezoz’ lab rat.

UPDATE 1: Gosh, looks like they are standing in an inconvenient line…

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11 Responses to ‘Thanks for Shopping’ — UPDATED

  1. Condi says:

    On another note Schumer and the Dems are bailing; they’ll vote to ‘reopen’ the gov’t based on a GOP promise to consider DACA by next month.

    Same as it ever was…

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  2. Sirius Lunacy says:

    The automated checkout lines are not there as a convenience to the customer, they are there as a cost savings to the company. I live in an area with a large elderly population who generally shy away from change, so there is often no one in the automated lines. I stand in line behind the old folks and wait my turn. It amazes me how often the person at the manned checkout chides me and others for not using the ‘convenient’ automated line. I always tell them that I’d just hate to see them lose their job.

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    • w3ski4me says:

      I admit I am an ‘old’ now, but I hate the Automatic Checkers with a passion. Not because of the job loss they represent but the aggravation they provide. If I buy booze, I need a checker anyway, ‘I should have been in line’, then there is always something that doesn’t scan or isn’t decipherable to the damned machine brain, “I needed a checker anyway”, or worse yet I buy one quick thing that happens to be too light to register on their bagging scale and the machine again goes into conniptions at me and ‘again’, “I needed a checker anyway”. I needed a checker to begin with and why waste time playing with a dumb computer to begin with?
      w3ski

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  3. I remember IBM running an add for this kind of thing years ago (I believe it was for an RFID point of sale system).

    A guy in a trench coat is wandering through a store, sicking things in his pockets, all suspicious-like. Then he strolls off out of the door, only to be chased by a security guard…”Here sir, you forgot your receipt!”

    Same as it ever was….

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    • Osirisopto says:

      I remember that. I thought the idea was cool.

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    • MDavis says:

      Yeah, I remember that. I also remember a sci-fi tale that took it to a weird level. Central collection of data, health data compared to purchase data, and one day an old geezer (well, geezer-in-training) cannot purchase anything because he has already exceeded the recommended limits for, say, salt or fat. The story went on to have people who had already been through this swoop in and save him from his profligate ways (i.e.: feed him until the store lets him buy more food) and they explain how this health watch-dog program was put in place to thin out the SS rolls.
      At least that is how I remember that story going.

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  4. Ten Bears says:

    Now just think of how convenient it will be with a remote frequency identification chip …

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  5. w3ski4me says:

    I admit I am an ‘old’ now, but I hate the Automatic Checkers with a passion. Not because of the job loss they represent but the aggravation they provide. If I buy booze, I need a checker anyway, ‘I should have been in line’, then there is always something that doesn’t scan or isn’t decipherable to the damned machine brain, “I needed a checker anyway”, or worse yet I buy one quick thing that happens to be too light to register on their bagging scale and the machine again goes into conniptions at me and ‘again’, “I needed a checker anyway”. I needed a checker to begin with and why waste time playing with a dumb computer to begin with?
    w3ski

    Like

  6. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    I never use self-checkout, my principle is: the job you save may be your own.

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