Amazon Fresh: What it feels like to leave the online retail giant’s first UK store “free of charge” | Business news
This is how it must feel to shoplifting, I thought as I left Amazon’s new store in London.
You walk in, take items off the shelves, put them in a bag, and wander through the doors back onto the sidewalk.
What is not to like? Of course, you will still be charged.
Getting started is easy. First, open the regular one Amazon App and select the shopping cart icon below.
Next, click on “Fresh Code” at the top of the screen to receive a QR code that you can scan when entering the store.
After that, just take items off the shelves and fridges. The software kind of keeps track of exactly where you are and what you’ve chosen.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” one customer said to a friend as he walked past the herbs and spices.
“You feel like a thief,” said a man, holding one of the shop’s bright green bags outside. “Just Walk Out Shopping” was emblazoned on the side.
It was one of those bags that confused me. They weigh next to nothing, but the clearly oversensitive software somehow knows you’ve picked one.
There are also greeting cards, napkins and bouquets of flowers, which again are not exactly heavy. But the technician will pick you up at the same time you do it.
In addition to soup, fruit and curry, I also bought a can of beer – for purely professional purposes, of course.
I wanted to see if adding alcohol to your bag made a difference. It was not, but a staff member is stationed at the entrance to this section.
The technology is not exactly hidden. If you look up, you’ll see lots of sensors on long stems sticking down from the ceiling.
Some buyers will no doubt feel that this takes the surveillance society even further.
Amazon says it uses its technology “Computer Vision, Deep Learning Algorithms and Sensor Fusion”. But there are probably a couple of detectives too.
It’s a bit like an episode of Doctor Who – but luckily without the Daleks.
How is the quality? The pea and ham soup I had for lunch may have been a little thin, but it tasted very pleasant.
This new no checkout store – Amazon’s first outside of the US – seems like a big change.
It seems certain that there will be much fewer queues in the future, partly because the company is apparently considering selling its technology to other supermarkets.
Long lines of people with bulging baskets could soon be a thing of the past, and Britain is a less impatient nation.