How will Amazon Go economically impact traditional grocery stores? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Kynan Eng, Tech startups & research, on Quora:
In the long term, Amazon Go obviously has high potential, but its main technology competition is . A lot of the easy gains were already taken by bringing self-checkout systems into supermarkets, for example:
- No checkout time. However, people have to put their shopping in a bag anyway, and self-checkout combines mindless entertainment (the beep-beep scanner) with a useful task so it doesn’t feel like you are wasting much time. So the net psychological gain is relatively small.
- Reduced checkout staff needs. However, the cost advantage is small compared with self-checkout, which requires just one inspector.
- Less space used in the entry/exit area formerly used by human-operated checkouts. Here again, however, self-checkout booths are relatively space-efficient.
The current implementation of Amazon Go is also limited by the state of the art in computer vision. Examples of difficult vision problems include:
- Loose fruits and vegetables of different sizes, or sold by weight (although there is an easy work-around where the person bags and weighs the items themselves and sticks a barcode on the bag).
- Highly deformable items such as large sacks of grain, or clothes on hangers. This can be addressed via packaging.
- Items where the object changes color—can be addressed via appropriate packaging.
For the moment, it seems that Amazon Go is best suited to busy small-to-medium convenience stores where everything is pre-packaged and users buy a few items at a time. Here, the speed of the transaction is most important, the range of products can be quite limited and the checkout space saved has the most value. Customers should feel like they can get a few things they need right now without ever needing to stop walking.
This question originally appeared on Quora. the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:
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Article Published in Forbes on 02nd February 2017