• Market Crumbs

Is Amazon Finally Ready To Overtake The Grocery Industry?


Image via nrd on Unsplash

Last week Market Crumbs took a look at Amazon's 37,000 job postings, which reveals the company is focusing its hiring efforts in software development. About 18,000 of the total job postings are for roles in software development such as solutions architect, engineering, database administration, machine learning and data science.


The latest news out of Amazon this week shows why the company is so interested in hiring employees that can leverage the power of computers and technology to add value—in the form of cost savings—to the company. 


Earlier this week Amazon opened its first Amazon Go Grocery store, which is the first grocery store to offer the company's "Just Walk Out" technology. Amazon is leveraging the cashier-less "Just Walk Out" technology that has already been implemented in 25 Amazon Go convenience stores across the U.S. 


According to Amazon, the process can be explained in three simple steps. First, all you have to do is open the Amazon Go app and scan a barcode to enter to the store. Second, grab the items you want to buy and place them in a bag. Lastly, walk out of the store with your items. 


So how exactly does Amazon know what you're buying if you don't have to go through a checkout? This is where all of those software developers Amazon is hiring come into play. "Just Walk Out" technology uses computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to detect when items are removed or returned to shelves while tracking the items in a "virtual cart." Once you leave the store Amazon sends you a receipt for the items you just walked out with. 


Amazon Go Grocery is still a lot like a normal grocery store, just without checkout or lines. The store offers everything you'd find in any other grocery store such as produce, meat, seafood, bakery items, household essentials and even alcohol. Amazon Go Grocery isn't entirely free of employees, either. It still has associates greeting customers, stocking shelves and assisting customers. 


So you may be wondering how long before this technology is pushed to Amazon's Whole Foods, which it acquired for $13.7 billion in 2017. 


Amazon is trying to downplay the idea that Amazon Go Grocery or its "Just Walk Out" technology is a threat to Whole Foods and its thousands of employees. 


"We’re not trying to be Whole Foods," Cameron Janes, VP of Amazon’s physical retail division, said. "We’re not trying to replace them." 


Another Amazon VP sounded similar views, but hinted it may just be a matter of time before the technology makes its way to Whole Foods. 


"There’s no plans to put this in a Whole Foods, for now,” Dilip Kumar, VP of Amazon Go, said. "For now, what we are focused on is this concept and see what customers think of it — [and] go from there."


With Amazon's thousands of tech-related employees working on another business to disrupt, it may be unwise to bet against this concept expanding further. If the concept is successful, the likely outcome—as has become the norm with Amazon, is stifled competition and ultimately more job losses.


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