Online retail giant Amazon has opened its fifth-ever experimental checkout-less convenience store in the Financial District, at 300 California St., Suite 100. Called Amazon Go, the new arrival focuses on foods like salads, sandwiches, meal kits and a few grocery store staples like bread, milk and cheese.
The prepared foods are made fresh daily, most of them in an offsite kitchen. However, it's the high-tech method of removing the checkout process that has earned the newcomer the most buzz.
Instead of employing cashiers or even self-service checkout machines, customers scan their Amazon Go app as they walk in through a turnstile. Sensors track items they remove from the shelves, then they're automatically charged as they leave the store. (Orange-shirted employees are still on-hand, however, to help customers find items.)
Amazon's vice president of technology for Amazon Go told The Verge that the goal is to save customers time, so that the level of crowding in the store — during the morning or lunch rush, for example — would no longer affect how much time it would take to grab a meal.
Despite some tech observers' privacy concerns about the entire concept, the Financial District Amazon Go has made a promising start so far, with a four-star rating out of 17 reviews on Yelp.
"Say goodbye to lunch lines forever," wrote Yelper Cindy L. "I opted for a Vegan Sesame Soba Noodle Salad (by Amazon Go) and was extremely impressed with the quality and quantity. The vegetables were fresh, the noodles were perfectly cooked, and the sesame sauce was on point."
Yelper Gwen K. added, "The app clocked me at three minutes and 15 seconds from the time I tagged my 'key' on the app to the entry gates, to selecting my sandwich, and walking out the entry/exit gates. That's three minutes and 15 seconds spent in the store. Super easy to grab and go."
But Yelper Kim W. opined, "Hype will die off soon. Like a fancy Walgreens with a BART entrance. Friendly and helpful orange staff."
Swing on by to stroll the shelves for yourself: Amazon Go is open from 7 a.m.–9 p.m. on weekdays. (It's closed on weekends.)