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…
— Suzanne Phan (@SuzannePhan) January 22, 2018