Tech Industry

Amazon Go Grocery brings fresh produce to the cashierless shopping experience

Amazon is bringing its "just walk out" retail concept to a grocery store. How'd you like them apples?

Amazon Go Grocery brings fresh produce to the Amazon Go retail concept.
Celso Bulgatti/CNET

Amazon has unveiled its latest physical retail concept -- a cashier-free Amazon Go store that sells fresh groceries.

The Amazon Go Grocery store, which opens in downtown Seattle on Tuesday, allows shoppers to buy groceries without running items through a checkout or even swiping a card.

This "just walk out" technology, as Amazon has dubbed it, first appeared in 2016 with the launch of Amazon Go -- a cashierless convenience store selling fast-moving items like snacks, drinks and ready-made meals. Amazon has rolled out 25 of these Go stores in metro locations across the US, but now the retailer wants to bring the concept closer to the 'burbs. That means new products like fresh produce, bread and baked goods, meat and liquor -- the kinds of things you'd buy in your weekly grocery shop.

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The basic technology behind Amazon Go hasn't changed with the launch of the grocery concept. Cameras in the ceiling work with sensors underneath shelves to track shoppers as they walk through the store, detecting when items are taken off shelves. Once an item is removed, it goes into a virtual cart and shoppers can walk out without going through a traditional check out -- the bill is paid via credit card through the Go app.

But while the concept is similar, things have changed with the addition of fresh produce. Amazon says it had to update the machine learning driving its system to account for things like multiple customers grabbing different fresh food items, or fridge doors fogging up after being left open.

We took a look around the Seattle store ahead of the opening and, by and large, it feels like a suburban grocery store, with a mix of prepackaged goods and fresh items -- all spread across 7,700 square feet.

The produce is sold in packages or by the item (like avocados at $1.19 each) so there's no weighing to confuse the process. But after walking out, the system had worked out that I'd taken just one tomato (not the three or four I picked up while I was checking for freshness) alongside a handful of other groceries.

There's no word on whether this concept will come to other cities -- Amazon's reps were tight-lipped about rollout plans during our brief store visit. According to Bloomberg reports ahead of the 2018 launch of Amazon Go, sources close to the company said Amazon planned on opening 3,000 Go stores by 2021. Amazon declined to comment on this figure ahead of the Go Grocery launch.

According to Amazon, the Seattle store is also a different concept to the grocery store the company is set to open in Woodland Hills this year. The company confirmed it would be opening this store in Los Angeles during 2020, though there is currently no word on how the store will be branded.