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A couple months ago, Amazon’s brick-and-mortar supermarket was supposed to be a big secret. Now, it’s officially open and ready to go—well, sort of.
The company’s first Amazon Go store, which is located in Seattle, doesn’t have any checkout lanes—which means no lines. Shoppers simply download the Amazon Go app on their smartphones, and it’s automatically linked to their Amazon accounts. They scan the QR code outside the store to alert the app that they’re about to start shopping, and then the rest is done by computers.
State-of-the-art sensors track which items customers take off of shelves and put into their carts. After shoppers are done, they literally just walk out the door, and the sensors automatically charge their Amazon accounts for the groceries they bought. How cool is that!?
The Seattle Amazon GO store (which is in beta, and currently only for Amazon employees) is the only one for now. But by early 2017, Amazon Go will be ready for the public. The 1,800-square-foot retail store not only has grocery essentials like bread and milk, but it also sells ready-to-eat meals created on-site and by local kitchens. There’s also something called “Amazon Meal Kits,” which has all the necessary items for consumers to cook a meal for two.
Even though this sounds like a great idea, there are some potential pitfalls and drawbacks to the concept of a supermarket that eliminates the checkout process. For starters, there are already stores that deliver groceries, which means shoppers don’t have to leave their homes at all. Nevertheless, Amazon has plans to open 2,000 stores around the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal. As automated supermarkets replace traditional grocery stores, some experts believe that the entire supermarket jobs market will collapse. It’s easy to envision a scenario in which the public and labor unions fight against that shift, so we’ll have to watch how it all plays out.
But, in the meantime, the idea of popping into a grocery store, grabbing what we need and walking right out—without having to stand in line (inevitably behind a person a ton of groceries and all kinds of complicated coupons) sounds very nice.
USAToday has put together a handy visual to show exactly how these newfangled grocery stores work. Check it out below: