Almost one year ago, Amazon announced its Amazon Go cashierless grocery store concept. Now, the company has improved the tech to overcome several early bugs, though it remains unclear how soon Amazon will expand the concept beyond the pilot store at its headquarters, Bloomberg reported.
Amazon continues to test the concept, and is also conducting focus group sessions to create protocols for in-store returns, spoiled or damaged merchandise and other issues, according to the report. The Amazon Go team has also reportedly shifted its focus from engineering to construction management and marketing, suggesting that the company is getting closer to a broader rollout.
While the technology has improved, the Amazon Go system still has difficulties figuring out who to charge when multiple people shop together, the report stated.
Amazon did not comment for the Bloomberg report, but we could hear something from the e-commerce giant soon as the one-year anniversary of Amazon Go's unveiling approaches. When Amazon announced the concept last December, the company had discussed plans to roll it out this year after initial testing.
However, as has been widely reported, the pilot store experienced technical problems, and it became clear a further roll out would be delayed. The unidentified source for the Bloomberg story said things are improving, but moving forward could be Amazon’s way of preemptively defusing any speculation about further problems, without forcing the company to issue a more official update.
While the technology is no doubt getting better, the Bloomberg report still sparks concern. It's troubling, for example, that the Amazon Go system struggles to recognize who they should charge when people shop together, as well as what to do when a child picks up an item. Charging the right person the right amount for an item they purchased is kind of a big deal in retail — and Amazon's system isn't going to revolutionize shopping until those bugs are fixed.
That said, brick-and-mortar stores don’t have perfect records with charging and payment accuracy. Who hasn’t discovered an incorrect or errant charge on a receipt moments after leaving the checkout line? Still, Amazon Go is crafted around the idea of frictionless shopping and going live with the idea before the company can count on that frictionless vision may not be the best move.
That doesn’t mean we won’t see Amazon Go expanding soon, but don’t be surprised if Amazon continues to take its time. The company is well known as a relentlessly aggressive competitor online, but it might be a little more deliberate with figuring out brick and mortar. As the new owner of Whole Foods, it now has a bigger stake in the brick-and-mortar grocery business, so Amazon Go doesn't need to be an overnight hit.