grocery wars

One Person Already Accidentally Shoplifted at Amazon’s New Cashierless Grocery Store

“Take the products you want, and go!” Photo: Mike Kane/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amazon’s cashierless store of the future opened yesterday to great fanfare. It required over a year of R&D while the company’s tech savants perfected the cutting-edge automation used by Amazon Go’s no-line shopping method (things like computer vision, sensor fusion, and so-called “deep learning”). Basically, an inordinate number of cameras capture the store’s every angle, allowing customers to enter empty-handed, then exit with bags full of sandwiches, wine, soda, individual-serving-size granola bars, and a thousand other things — all of which the cameras, in theory, detect.

It appears there are still some kinks to work out. While a New York Times reporter who got an early look tried to test the robots’ mettle, he was promptly discovered, and his Amazon account was charged for the item, a four-pack of soda. But CNBC tech reporter Deirdre Bosa might not be Amazon’s favorite person right now. It appears she’ll go down as Amazon Go’s first-ever shoplifter, a feat she achieved just hours into the store’s grand opening:

Her double-question-mark confusion is actually an interesting consequence of Amazon Go. Because it turns shopping into an existential riddle: The store encourages people to “Just Walk Out,” so what even is the line between honest shopping and would-be shoplifting?

Even Siggi’s isn’t sure:

Bosa says she just put the items in her shopping bag and walked out as instructed. She ’fessed up to Amazon immediately afterwards, and Amazon Go’s vice president Gianna Puerini told her to “enjoy the yogurt on us” because that goof “happens so rarely that we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened.” The exec adds she’s been using the platform for a year and has “yet to get an error.”

So it sounds like the company isn’t too worried. And maybe that’s good — it can focus on solving the other snags popping up that also seem counter to Amazon Go’s ethos. For instance, interest in the store is apparently already creating lines:

Somebody Already Shoplifted at Amazon’s New Grocery Store