More reports on: Retail

Amazon developing concept of supermarket staffed by robots

07 February 2017

Amazon is reportedly developing the concept of a supermarket that would be run mainly by robots and as few as three human staff, The New York Post reported citing sources.

While shoppers looked around supermarket-style aisles downstairs, robots would fetch known items from a warehouse upstairs as per customer orders, which would replace the current off-site fulfilment centre model, the source told the paper reported.

The proposed model reduced the number of aisles required in the retail space, vastly cutting expensive real estate costs for the retailer.

Called Amazon Go, the stores would allow customers to grab groceries and just walk out with the total bill charged to their Amazon account.

"Amazon will utilise technology to minimise labour," a source said, detailing a two-storey supermarket it claimed was currently being prototyped.

The new model built upon Amazon Go convenience store, which was the company's bid to move into the traditional retail market.

The selling point of the 'just walk out' Go concept was its lack of check-outs, where technology tracked customers who simply filled their bags with products via a downloaded app.

The bigger prototype now under discussion reportedly spanned between 929 and 3,720 square metres, and was devoted to goods that shoppers typically liked to interact with before purchasing such as fresh fruit and vegetables, eggs, meat and cheese.

According to commentators, the robot-run supermarkets were not Amazon's first foray into the world of grocery shopping. In December, the company had unveiled a small convenience store in Seattle.

To enter the store, customers simply opened the Amazon Go app and placed it to a sensor located at the turnstile entrance. The app used computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to detect what customers took off the shelves and what they put back.

When customers had found the items they needed, they could walk out of the store and everything was charged to their Amazon account.

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