Everyone knows about the online shopping giant Amazon, but not many people may know about their latest endeavor into offline shopping. Last month, the first employee-free convenience store opened under the Amazon headquarters in Seattle. I know what you might be asking yourself: a store with no employees that doesn’t make any sense. I agree at first glance–it doesn’t make any sense. But the technology implemented within the store allows it to work.
Any person who has an Amazon account can easily enter the store and start shopping. Once inside, the customer takes whatever items they want from the store and walk out. Crazy, right? The sensors and cameras in the store track what the customers pick up and, as they leave, items are charged to their accounts. The store is well received by people who live in the Seattle area and Amazon plans to open more stores including locations in LA and Chicago.
All of this seems like science fiction doesn’t it? Though the idea is certainly progressive, there’s still something that is deeply concerning for me: the privacy of the shoppers and Amazon customers. As stated prior, the store is filled with cameras that track your every move, and everything is tracked through your phone. “Powerful companies like Amazon don’t just have what you bought at the grocery store, but they’re also connected with and combined with nearly every aspect of your life,” Danielle Citron, a law professor and expert in privacy at the University of Maryland via The Washington Post. Amazon already knows the shopping habits, reading habits, and even the addresses of their customers. Why would you want them to know your physical appearance as well, not to mention where you are on a day-to-day basis. They could track when you enter the store and which location you are shopping in.
I know I’ve ripped into the Amazon Go store, but I actually find the whole concept to be very interesting. The thought of a store with no staff makes me think of something in the distant future, but to have it available today is quite remarkable. What I don’t like is having a company know where I live and now grant them the ability to know where I am and what I look like. All I’m saying is: I don’t if I’m willing just yet to give up my privacy in the name of convenience.