Amazon Just Launched the Supermarket of the Future (and Your Dreams)

Amazon Launches Supermarket of the Future
image/Amazon

If being stuck in line at the supermarket with just one item behind a customer with a filled-to-the-top cart gives you panic attacks, Amazon has some exciting news.

Earlier this week, the online retail giant released a video for a brick and mortar convenience store its calling Amazon Go. And it’s the shopping experience of everyone’s dreams. No lines. Ever.

The flagship 1,800 square-foot supermarket of the future is located in Seattle, where Amazon is based.

“It’s clearly a sign that Amazon sees a big opportunity in revolutionizing the staid traditions of Main Street commerce,” reports the Seattle Times.

Using a mobile app, Amazon Go shoppers check-in upon entering the store—kind of like entering a subway station through a turnstile or using a phone at airport security check-in. Then, once inside the store, the app automatically identifies the items being purchased (kind of like those library book check-outs). Then, you walk out and Amazon charges you after you’ve left the store.

No checkout aisle, no putting items into carts with the one broken wheel only to have to take them back out of the cart a few minutes later and pile them onto the little conveyor belt and then back into the cart while the cashier asks you what kind of apple your Crapaudine beets are.

Amazon has aptly dubbed the (r)evolutionary concept “Just Walk Out Technology.” It relies on RFID and sensors (and a little Jetsons inspo) to identify the merchandise you’re stuffing right into your bags, purse, underwear. Go for it, right? And no one will care now that you have your period, btw. Or a chocolate addiction.

And, just like the self-checkout registers at most major supermarkets these days, there’s likely to be errors that occur—but surely not nearly as much of a hassle as spending 45 minutes in line at checkout and being forced to make small talk with the cashiers while the person in line behind you keeps accidentally banging your heels with their cart.

Yes, the concept may kill those register area impulse item purchases and magazine sales. But we’re guessing the technology will actually allow for much more creative merchandising within the stores, something that could bode better for brands (and retailers) compromised by traditional supermarket navigation.

Grocery shopping online with services like Instacart, Thrive Market, and Amazon Fresh is gaining in popularity, as is the booming meal kit delivery trend, and Amazon Go is, in theory at least, the best of both worlds: the anonymity and swiftness of online shopping married with the tactile experience of shopping the aisles, seeing and touching the food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables or grab-and-go items. It’s the convenience of the future meets the quaintness of the past, presumably with all of the deliciousness of both.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.