Last year when we visited Seattle, we got to peek inside the Amazon Go convenience store.
At that time, it wasn’t open except to Amazon employees. The security guard let us peek inside, but that was it.
I might be jumping ahead of myself. What’s Amazon Go? Check this out:
When we went to Seattle this week for my Annual Cupcake Birthday Trip, a swing by the new Spheres and this weird store was high on the list.
I’m curious. I like to try all the new things.
(Honestly, I just wanted to see if I could screw with the system.)
Here’s how it works:
- You download the Amazon Go app.
- You scan your special code (provided in the app) on the turnstile.
- You pick up all the things you want to buy and put them in your shopping bag.
- You walk out.
- You get a receipt in the app about 3-5 minutes after departing the store.
So I decided to see what would happen if I let 3 people loose in the store under one code (this is allowed, I’m not trying to steal or break any rules, I promise).
We downloaded the app outside the store, and we were handed a rather nice bright orange reusable shopping bag. I scanned my little personalized QR code on the turnstile inside (once for each person…me, my kiddo and my Seattle bestie Kyle) and let them loose in the store.
It’s a pretty basic convenience store – about 1800 square feet of drinks and ready-to-eat foods (sandwiches and salads, but snacks too), a pretty decent liquor corner, and some basic necessities (milk, eggs, butter) and toiletries. They also have nice selection of meal kits (kind of like Blue Apron) that they claim can be cooked in 30 minutes or less, and can feed about 2 people.
No books or magazines though – I imagine they screw with the tracking system.
All of the prices are right there on the shelf, and the prices were actually pretty decent, considering we had just purchased a can of soda for nearly three times the price at a store just around the corner.
I encouraged Kyle and the kiddo to pick things up and put them back on the shelf, as the articles I read (see here and here) said the technology could keep track of what they were picking up and putting back. I wasn’t sure if the system could handle the three of us splitting up all over the store.
I picked up a half dozen things, putting them into my shopping bag, and then back on the shelf (in the correct spot – I used to work in a supermarket and I’m not a monster).
My partners in
crime this experiment did the same, even carrying a few things around the whole shopping trip before putting them back. We ended up with a really cute souvenir mug (“Just Walk Out Shopping”) and a beverage for each of us.
It felt like we were shopping FOREVER and we looked at everything in the whole store – but according to the app, our visit was only 4 minutes and 16 seconds.
Then we just walked out.
Let me emphasize – we put a bunch of items in a bag and walked out of the store. Totally did not feel right at all.
Felt an awful lot like shoplifting.
I didn’t get a receipt as I walked out the door and I kept showing Kyle my phone saying “WE HAVE TO GO BACK AND PAY FOR THIS”.
About 5 minutes after we left the store, the receipt popped up on my phone.
And it was 100% correct.
When I opened the receipt, it provided a brief tutorial on how to request a refund, in case I was charged for things I put back on the shelf or didn’t even buy – unnecessary in our case, as everything was spot on.
All in all – paired with the brief tour of the UnderStory at the Spheres next door, that was definitely a fun (and inexpensive) Seattle tourist experience I had not had before!