Amazon Go opens to the public, a year after originally intended

Why it’s interesting

  • Amazon Go, the company’s cashier-less small-format grocery store, opened to the public this week. The project has been in development for over five years, and was supposed to open to the public in early 2017, but ran into a number of issues with how its instant checkout technology dealt with multiple shoppers in the store at once.

Why it matters

  • When Amazon delayed the public unveiling of Go, many writers opined that the technology was dead or seriously flawed. But internally, this wasn’t a big issue and, as with most coverage of Amazon, the media’s perspective missed the bigger picture. According to CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon gives itself five to seven years to realize anything it spends time on, and hiccups like this are par for the course. Moreover, Go emerged only five years since its inception—an early release. Without a full grasp on Amazon’s strategy, many people significantly overreact when things go wrong for the company, an inevitability when it is attempting to do something as boundary-pushing as “eliminating checkout lines.”
  • The company was tight-lipped about future plans for this technology, and even though it denied it would make its way into Whole Foods, which is notorious for its long lines during rush hour, it likely will in due time. There is surely more Amazon has yet to figure out with Go, especially how peak demand impacts the system, but it  is nonetheless a big step forward for Amazon retail technology, and for eliminating long lines.