Amazon’s Automated Retail Store Hits A Ceiling — 20 People, Max!

Amazon, Go, create the store of the future!

Amazon, the American retail giant that has lately been scampering ahead with technology R&D of many shapes, was all set to open a cashier-free convenience store in the U.S. But it’s run into a bit of a glitch.

Amazon has, for a while now, been trying to build stores that would let customers simply walk in, pick up items, and then walk out. The customer would be automatically billed to her Amazon account, without any need to wait in line, get things billed or swipe her card, in the regular tedious way of shopping.

A store was supposed to open early this year, but, due to some technology related quirks, they’ve had to put the launch on hold for a bit.

It turns out, the store — dubbed Amazon Go — currently only functions properly if there are fewer than 20 shoppers inside it at any given time. Put any more people inside, and the shopper-tracking technology breaks down. Perhaps because the system finds it too difficult to concurrently follow that many people.

In addition to dealing with the number of customers flowing into the store, another problem this store-of-the-future seems to be having is that of tracking items that have been moved from their proper place on the shelves.
 So you pick up that soap bar, put it in your cart, and later change your mind and put it back on anther shelf in another aisle, then the item gets lost and the system is no longer be able to track it.

These quirks, natural as hiccups may be in new technology — after all, no one expects these things to work smoothly from day one — come as a setback to Amazon, at this late juncture in their plan. Amazon had been intending to open the store by the end of March, this year. But from what it looks like now, Amazon’s back at the drawing board on the technology front — trying to iron out the kinks. And that may take a while.

Having established themselves as the world leader in the online retail world, Amazon has been keen to expand into retail stores, for which, this technology is critical to set themselves apart.
 Clearly, Amazon wants the stores to be attractive for reasons other than just the brand’s name or the prices on offer.

Amazon’s expansion drive kind of came to the fore when they opened their brick-and-mortar bookstores — five of which are functional right now, and five more of which will be functional soon. Their plan to open a furniture store that would use augmented reality to help shoppers visualise is another element of their ambitious expansion plans.

This next-generation of technology-enabled retail stores would have really served to distinguish the company’s retail strategy.

That said, we at Chip-Monks have always held Amazon in the highest esteem for their tenacity and their amazing ability to deliver. Believing in Amazon’s potential, we would be willing to take bets on the store being up and running to the public, before the end of this year, perhaps in just a few months.
 These guys have always been the kind who, when they see a problem, usually buck up and get it sorted out.

Amazon, Go, create the store of the future! Come on, we have our fingers crossed!

Originally published at Chip-Monks.