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Amazon launching new store where you don't have to check out

Posted December 7, 2016

The North Carolina Department of Revenue has settled a privacy lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union and has agreed to stop asking for the personal information of Amazon.com customers, officials said Wednesday.

Amazon wants to make shopping at the grocery store so easy that it’s almost like you don't shop at all.

On Monday, the online shopping company announced Amazon Go, a grocery store that doesn’t require shoppers to wait in lines at the register or use self-checkout, according to Engadget.

Rather, as Engadget explained, the store will ask shoppers to submit their payment information beforehand through the Amazon Go app. Computer software will monitor customers and charge people's bills when they pick up items and leave the store with them.

The first store will launch in Seattle, according to Engadget.

The store will only be open to Amazon employees, but others can sign up to be notified when the shop is open for general business.

So far, observers remain split on whether the Amazon Go shop will help consumers in grocery stores.

Neil Saunders, managing director of retail research firm Conlumino, told Reuters that he thinks the shop will appeal to shoppers because it doesn’t require everyone’s least favorite part of the shopping experience — waiting.

"The checkout lines are always the most inefficient parts of the store experience," Saunders told Reuters. "Not only would you save a lot on labor costs, you actually would make the process much quicker for consumers and much more satisfying."

But, he said, it won’t be easy for shoppers to understand how the stores work. He said the concept will make buyers feel as if they are stealing items from the store, and “there is a bit of education need for consumers.”

Meanwhile, analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research said this new product could end up disrupting the grocery store industry.

"If there were hundreds of these stores around the country, it would be a huge threat,” he said, according to Reuters.

The store’s announcement may also just be a bunch of buzzwords from Amazon, designed to help the company see its stock value increase around the Christmas season, according to Forbes’ Ryan Mac.

Mac wrote that the store does fit into Amazon’s plan to make shopping better for customers. But too many questions exist around the product for it to take over mainstream supermarkets just yet.

“That sounds good, but how does it really work? How many items will be in the store? What happens when the store doesn't recognize a customer? What if someone is overcharged?” Mac asked.

But Mac wrote that Amazon’s been thinking about products like this for close to four years, which shows there’s a vision ahead. The company even filed a patent about 18 months ago that described the vision of Amazon Go.

Amazon already had a separate e-commerce store called Amazon Fresh, which, for a monthly fee of $14.99, allows people to order groceries online that will be shipped to their house, according to TechCrunch.

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