Amazon just opened its first cashierless store in Seattle in January, and is apparently so pleased with that starter entry that it is now searching out other outlets. The Seattle Times reports today that Amazon is hiring store managers in Chicago and San Frncisco, according to job postings on its website, and “a spokesperson confirmed that the company was planning to open stores in each city, but didn’t specify when.”
In that first flagship store, customers come in and just pull things off the shelves, put them in a bag, and head out the door. This visit is followed by an online receipt, thanks to the store’s considerable camera system that tracks what everyone leaves the store with. We called it “shoplifting with a bill.” Although it lacks cashiers, the store does have some staff on hand to restock shelves, and check IDs in the liquor department.
Still, it seems like a bizarre disconnect from actual human interaction, and it will be interesting to see how it pays out in different regions. The tech-heavy areas of Seattle and San Francisco, no problem. But what about those Chicago midwesterners? Won’t it seem odd to stroll out of the store without even so much as a “howdy-do” to anyone? At the very least, maybe Amazon can eventually install those high-tech greeters like in Minority Report: “Hello, Gwen Ihnat. How did you like those six pints of Häagen-Dazs you bought yesterday?”