One of my first jobs as a teenager was working as a checkout operator at the local grocery store.
It was an awesome opportunity to meet new people, learn about customer service and make some money to fuel my petrol thirsty car.
So in 1987 I started at the checkout. The mid 80's saw a massive shift in cash register technology and during my period on the checkout counter we moved from the old digital cash register into the new bar code laser scanner register.
When it worked it was brilliant. When it didn't scan the product bar code correctly, you would spend 2 minutes typing in the bar code manually. This happened to at least 1 in 2 customers so it was a frustrating period.
30 years later, laser scanner technology is almost faultless. But isn't it time for a complete disruption to the retail industry?
Jeff Bezos and Amazon think so, and so do I!
Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. Amazon have created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With their new "Just Walk Out Shopping" experience, customers use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products they want, and go! Amazons' new tag line "No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)"
How does Amazon Go work?
The checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. The "Just Walk Out Technology" automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, Amazon will charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.
The trial is based at an Amazon store in Seattle and is currently Beta testing with only Amazon employees.
Another "Supermarket of the Future"
There are other companies looking at a "Supermarket of the future". In Milan, MIT professor Carlo Ratti partnered with Italian grocer Coop to create a whole new spin on grocery shopping.
When a customer wants to know more about any item of produce, like an apple or a head of lettuce, they simply hold the item up and an overhead display reveals all the important facts about it. Microsoft Kinect sensors built into the mirrored display identify the item and spit out all the vital details. Customers can see detailed information on allergens, the item’s carbon footprint, and check pricing and current store promotions related to it.
Technology disruption continues and the future of many retail jobs will no doubt be at risk. Approximately 6% of the work force in the USA is in the retail sector. Food for thought!