Tuesday's likely to be a big day in Seattle's Capitol Hill district, where Reuters reports that the first Amazon Go Grocery store is opening, with just one thing missing: cashiers. Customers simply walk into the 10,400-square-foot site—smaller than the 40,000 square feet or so found in the average US grocery store, per CNBC—with the Amazon Go app fired up and let hundreds of in-store cameras and shelf sensors document what they're putting in their carts. When they're ready to leave, their tab gets charged to an on-file credit card, and they can walk right out the door. The store will hawk about 5,000 items, including fresh produce, meats, dairy, baked goods, and wine, beer, and spirits (to buy booze, a human will need to check your ID when you enter the store if you're going to visit the alcohol aisle, the Verge notes).
One of the more head-scratching aspects of the technology emerged in the produce aisles, where customers tend to pick up fruits and veggies to inspect them, then place them back on the shelf. A company exec tells Reuters they figured out how not to charge customers in those cases. And it won't be a completely people-less operation: "Several dozen associates" will man the store to replenish stock and assist customers. Although this is the first Amazon Go grocery site, there are nearly 20 Amazon Go stores scattered around the US that feature convenience store-style fare. It appears to be all part of Amazon's master retail-domination plan—and an Amazon Go VP tells the Wall Street Journal this grocery venture could go "10 times as big." "Amazon's primary mission is to get you to say 'Amazon' every day of your life," a Forrester Research analyst tells CNBC. (Read more Amazon.com stories.)