Amazon 'testing cashierless technology for bigger stores'

Shopping at the Amazon Go store in San Francisco

Amazon's cashierless brick and mortar stores are posing another challenge to traditional retailers.

The online retail giant is experimenting with the technology in Seattle in a larger space formatted like a big store, the people said.

Amazon now has more than a half-dozen Amazon Go stores open or set to open in three cities - Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco - but they are much smaller than traditional grocery stores. The test is said to be a potential trial run for cashierless checkout at Whole Foods, the grocery store chain Amazon acquired a year ago for more than $13 billion, though the actual objective remains unclear.

Cashierless technology uses cameras and machine learning to automatically track customers as they remove items from shelves.

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Amazon is planning to bring its cashierless checkout technology to bigger stores, and maybe even Whole Foods. While the company previously said it didn't have plans to use Amazon Go at its grocery chain (the firm declined to comment on the apparent leak), that's not the same as ruling it out entirely. It also has lowered prices for Amazon's Prime members. It is reportedly considering opening 3,000 such stores across America. It is not known where or when it will be opening its first United Kingdom cashierless store. "It tends to build a lot of habit".

Deploying the technology in a Whole Foods store, typically 40,000 square feet and home to some 34,000 items, would be a bigger challenge.

Inside of Amazon's Go stores, products are systematically placed on shelves full of indicators that are easily recognized by computer vision systems. How would it handle the varying qualities of fresh produce, or track frozen foods hidden behind glass?

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