Amazon Go store opens in Chicago

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Chicago's first Amazon Go store opened Monday in the Loop.

Chicago's first Amazon Go store opened Monday.

The automated, cashier-less store is the first to open outside of the company's headquarters in Seattle. It opened its doors in Chicago's Loop at 113 S. Franklin Street.

"Chicago is a great city," said Dilip Kumar, vice president of technology for Amazon Go. "It is vibrant, there is a lot of foot traffic, there is great urban density and office space here and the store is great for people that are looking to get good food fast."

Though it looks like a small-scale, high-tech convenience store, it could be the future of retail.
Shoppers scan their Amazon Go app for entry, grab the items that they want and walk out. Purchases are later billed to the shopper's registered credit card, and an instant receipt is sent to their phone upon exit.

The store offers a variety of fresh food options ranging from quick snacks to complete meal kits that are often locally sourced.

The store is designed using machine learning, and cameras in the ceiling monitor what items customers take off of and return to the shelves, "so that when you are done shopping we can tally up all those purchases and send you a receipt," Kumar said.

Cindy Pogrund said she wasn't concerned about billing accuracy.

"I think it is like anything else, you look at the bill the first ten times and maybe you assume it's right in the future," she said.

Katie McCue was one of the store's first shoppers.

"It was cool, you know, it is quick, you don't have to wait in line, you just walk out with your items," she said. "It's like you're stealing, but you're not!"

Sheeroz Kemran, another shopper, said the process will definitely take some getting used to.

"It's kind of like, weird. I kinda hesitated touching things," Kemran said. "It felt like I was stealing but I wasn't."
Amazon's challenge now is to scale up from a downtown storefront to a full grocery store with this technology. The online behemoth also owns Whole Foods.

David Weiss, a McMillan Doolittle analyst, said the technology will be scaleable to hundreds of locations in 6-24 months, depending on how many bugs are left to be ironed out.

"Other players are also moving in on the space," he said. "The bigger revolution will be when the automatic tracking of your purchases is combined with automatic customer recognition. You won't have to check-in at a turnstile and the store scans you instead via facial recognition."

Retail analysts said that the convenience stores show Amazon has gone beyond proof-of-concept, raising questions about whether the technology will phase out the need for human cashiers. The company said not to worry, though, as it will always need a lot of workers.
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