The ruler of the e-commerce space, Amazon, has been vying the offline space with the opening of a highly advanced and experimental cashier-free supermarket concept. Called Amazon Go, these stores were expected to be ready for an official public launch by the end of March. But, the company is said to have been met with a handful of technical difficulties that will delay the scheduled opening, reports The Wall Street Journal.
These will be no ordinary supermarkets, such as WalMart or Target. Instead, Amazon Go stores make use of cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and computer vision to automate the shopping experience. The concept of these stores is said to revolve around convenience shopping, where you just walk in, grab the stuff and walk out. You’re not required to stand in long checkout lines or even whip out your credit/debit card to pay for the goods you picked up.
The concept of these stores was unveiled back in December 2016 and it had been in ‘beta testing’ since then. Only Amazon employees had access to the official Amazon Go app, which you’re required to scan at the entry and again at checkout to complete the purchase. It records the items you’ve picked up inside the store and the amount is deducted automatically from your preferred payment method. It has been termed as the ‘Walk-Out’ technology.
This beta test site is based in Seattle and has given Amazon some much-needed feedback on the quirks in the advanced technologies it had employed within their store. Unfortunately, WSJ reports that the company’s computer vision system is having trouble keeping up with a large collective of individuals inside the store.
The system is currently only capable of tracking not more than 20 people at one instant of time. The Amazon Go store works perfectly fine if there are a fewer number of people inside and they’re also moving about slowly, say sources aware of the development. This will also include, let’s say, the minimum number of employees (i.e about six) required to keep the store running. This reduced the number of customers to an ever low figure, which doesn’t fit in with the real-world scenario of retail stores.
One of the sources aware of the development said:
Amazon has run into problems tracking more than about 20 people in the store at one time, as well as the difficulty of keeping tabs on an item if it has been moved from its specific spot on the shelf.
Further, the source continues to add that the store’s central tracking system is also having difficulty in tracking items if they’re moved from their original location on a particular shelf. The functionality to track store items no matter wherever they are placed should be a perk instead of being a chink in the armor for the e-commerce giant. The said inconveniences being faced by the system represent real world problems and need to be eliminated for a smoother, more intuitive shopping experience.
The said inconveniences being faced by the system represent real-world problems which need to be eliminated for a smoother, more intuitive shopping experience. And this is important because people don’t expect to move around like snails and spend their complete day a grocery store. They’re willing to just dash in, grab the necessities and walk out without any interaction with anyone. Amazon is currently working hard to rectify the quirks and will hopefully open the Amazon Go store to the public by mid-2017 (at least this very year).