Science

Amazon opens Britian’s first contactless supermarket

'Walk Out Technology': London's new Amazon Fresh store aims to revolutionize grocery shopping in the UK. Credit: Amazon
Amazon has recently opened the first supermarket in the UK to utilize ‘Just Walk Out Technology’, revolutionizing the way we will do our weekly shopping.

By Harriet Lowbridge | Contributor

Customers scan their Amazon Fresh App as they enter the store to identify themselves and can simply fill their baskets and bags as they shop. Once finished, customers can simply walk straight out without the need of visiting a cashier or queue at tills.

Through a blend of ‘computer vision’, ‘deep learning algorithms’ and ‘sensor fusion’ the store itself tracks what items you pick up, put down, and take out of the store, automatically charging your Amazon account as you leave. Cameras and computers are placed around the store, tracking the movement of your smartphone to keep a record of what items you are taking. Meanwhile, sensors on the shelves monitor which items are being moved or taken. Once you have left, your receipt is emailed straight to you.

Amazon Fresh contains many of the brands we know and love, such as Heinz and Kellogg’s, as well as some of Morrisons’ own brands. Amazon’s own in-store brand has been created for items such as pastries, sandwiches, and more. Amazon also claims that some of their own-brand products will be locally sourced to support British farms, providing British eggs, milk, and vegetables.

The store also features self-serving coffee machines, and a click and collect service for regular amazon delivery parcels, as well as a help desk for anything we may need.

The new Amazon Fresh store promises to be one of many in the greater London area, and potentially across the country. Some rumors also claim that Amazon may look to expand by purchasing one of the current large supermarkets, or otherwise selling the technologies to the existing stores on the high-street.

Amazon Fresh is an attempt to make our weekly shopping ‘as convenient as possible’ with the removal of tills and queues. Something much appreciated in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the person-to-person contact is much more limited. Though this is something that many people are raising concerns about, considering the lack of human interactions and the loss of cashier jobs within the stores.

While customers will not need to interact with any staff during the visit, each store will look to hire around 30 staff members for tasks such as restocking shelves, preparing food, and handling any questions at the help desks.

Concerns have also been raised around personal privacy and have likened the technologies used to ‘dystopian surveillance’. Many people are wondering how our information may be used, as massive ‘personal data footprints’ will be created by smart technology throughout the store. It still cannot be denied that the introduction of contactless shopping will have a huge impact on the high-street market, and that Amazon has the potential to completely revolutionize the grocery industry. This is something Clive Black, a market analyst from Shore Capital, has noticed and marked as a ‘seminal moment in the history of the UK grocery market’.

The new store does not seem to pose an immediate threat to British supermarkets, yet the long-term consequences of this technology being on our highstreets could have the potential to dramatically change the face of British shopping forever.

Science and Technology

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