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  • Thierry Spanjaard

Amazon “Just Walk Out” is expanding

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Amazon has announced its intention to license its Amazon Go Technology to third parties allowing for a faster development of totally automated stores. Amazon is said to have several deals under way to allow retailers to implement the technology which is now called “Just Walk Out.” Although the names of all licensees are not disclosed, one can easily envision the interest of such a technology for convenience stores, large retailers, airport shops, etc. and, more generally, in “places that have high demand, long lines, or wherever customers are pressed for time,” says Amazon. Already, Amazon’s technology is to be installed in several Cibo Express gourmet stores at New York Newark and La Guardia airports.

Under the licensing deal, retailers set up stores under their own brand name and image, while turnstiles and credit card readers display the logo “Just Walk Out technology by Amazon.”

Amazon Go was launched in 2016, with a store in Seattle. It allows to build stores without cashiers nor cash registers. Consumers just enter the store after they present their credit card to a turnstile or if they have the Amazon Go app installed on their phone. Then, they simply pick up items from the shelf without having to scan them, and just walk out. The system, which includes ceiling cameras and shelf weight sensors, identifies each purchased item at the time it is taken from the shelf, and automatically debits the credit card account when the consumer leaves the store.

From its inception Amazon Go has been under criticism: some considered it was using huge hardware and software resources including sensors, scanners and AI to analyze consumers’ purchases and be able to bill them. Others considered it contributed to dehumanizing our society and to significantly reducing the needed workload.

Now Amazon Go works in 26 stores across the United States. In September 2018, according to Bloomberg, Amazon was planning to open 3,000 more Amazon Go shops over the three following years. Seemingly, Amazon is now considering licensing is a better way to implement its technology than running its own stores.

In addition to identifying purchases and dealing with payments, Amazon technology need large computing power requirements, thus supporting Amazon Web Services business and creates an opportunity to collect always more consumer data. These data, that will be available to both Amazon and the retailers, allow to link user’s purchases with credit card numbers and emails, thus providing a very accurate identification of each consumer, getting close to the large amounts of information collected by merchant websites, a domain in which Amazon excels.

In our times of general confinement and when all health authorities worldwide recommend us to reduce human interactions, the more automatized means and those which do not require to touch anything may be beneficial.

When this crisis will be over, let’s hope than we will all be happy to get back to dealing with human beings rather than with robotized systems.

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