Two years after launching a chain of convenience stores without cashiers or checkout lines, Amazon opened its first “Amazon Go Grocery” store in Seattle on the 25th, enlarging the footprint for surveillance-style shopping and signalling a larger challenge to the broader world of brick-and-mortar retail. One will not find any registers, and we can walk out as soon as we have grabbed what we need. The catch is that all the information about our purchase are in sensors, computers, and the cameras hanging from the ceiling. To accurately track the customers, the company has implemented more surveillance and computing power.
Christo Wilson is an associate professor at Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences. He says that in reality, not much has changed. Amazon already knows a ton about us. According to him, since Amazon’s online marketplace already tracks what we do, going into the store doesn’t give any more information. The convenience of skipping the checkout line comes at the expense of privacy, but so does shopping through Amazon at all. It has occasionally contradicted the goals it originally aligned with, aligning itself instead with the models it intended to replace when it proves beneficial. Hence, Amazon Go Grocery is nothing new.
Christopher Bosso is the professor and associate director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. He says that there is a percentage of the population that does not want to have its stuff delivered; it wants to pick it up. Amazon customers grew accustomed to the expedited delivery of, among other things, books. Bosso points out that Amazon is uniquely positioned, with its large user base that already expects consistent quality and delivery. Thus, Amazon is capitalising on a trend, says Bosso, one that promises pears of identical size and dinners that need only be reheated, neither one requiring compromise or much thought on the part of the customer. However, by eliminating traditional cashiers, a feature the company already debuted in its Amazon Go stores in 2018, Amazon offers to even further streamline this traditional activity.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman