back to article Amazon launches itself into retail IT with 'all the necessary technologies'. Not saying which, but you know...

You know how it is: you start by selling books online, then take over the world of ecommerce, and almost by accident end up dominating the multibillion-dollar cloud computing market. After that, you just can't help yourself. Well, you would if you were Amazon. Bezos' behemoth has decided to launch into another market: this …

  1. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Madness

    step 1: Amazon get to know exactly who all your customers are, how much they spend, on what and when, you get to employ one or two less people.

    step 2: Amazon undercuts the price on everything you're try to sell and offers it to the customer before they leave the house, you get to employ nobody including yourself.

    Did I miss anything?

    1. rcxb Silver badge

      Re: Madness

      Step 3: Amazon's tech doesn't work out all that well, so the wrong customers get billed from your store, they get angry at you, then you're out customers, product, and cash.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Madness

        Step 4: customer goes home and orders from amazon because they don't have any other choice?

  2. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    Pickpockets paradise

    Seems like the cameras are monitoring the shelves to see who picks up and puts back what and then assumes they walk out and are happy to pay for it. All very well till some ne're-do-wells realize the cameras are not monitoring them pinching stuff from other peoples trolleys.

    Almost as hopeless as letting you buy watermelons at the self-checkout and not figuring out that it's a case of vodka and not a watermelon you've just put on the scales.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Pickpockets paradise

      " the cameras are not monitoring them pinching stuff from other peoples trolleys"

      Do we know that for sure? Given that there aren't any trolleys (you just take things off the shelf and put them in your bag/pocket), I wouldn't be surprised if the cameras just watched for any movement of items.

      Plus, when you enter you have to tie your identity to your amazon account via a phone app, so chances are, if you pick-pocketed things out of someone's bag, you'd get charged for it on your way out of the store. Unless you did it in a way which fooled the many cameras, and possible RFID readers (and more?).

      Of course, if you can get into the store without giving your payment details, then you can just steal whatever you want from the shelves, (abit whilst leaving CCTV footage from every angle), no need to mug someone.

      I'm getting most of my info from this article, and it sounds like currently it can barely cope with people shopping in the 'correct way', so actual theft is about as plausible as getting charged for 5000 bananas by mistake.

      1. JohnFen

        Re: Pickpockets paradise

        > Plus, when you enter you have to tie your identity to your amazon account via a phone app

        Not with this program. You register your credit card when you enter the store, instead.

        1. The Nazz

          Re: Pickpockets paradise

          "You register YOUR credit card when you enter the store, instead"

          FTA : consumers will be charged to a credit card which they swipe as they enter the shop.

          Pick a card, any card. Available at many fuel stations nearby.

          Additionally, NO THANK YOU.

          Amazon : "Congratulations, dear Customer, that is your 50th successful purchase from our store. And having noticed you have not bought a single dental product on any visit may we interest you in our dating App? Here's a selection from our 80+ year old GILF's who too no longer need dental products."

          The secret of tightrope walking and having blowjobs from 80 yo GILF's?

          Don't Look Down.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Pickpockets paradise

      I read a review of this tech. Your specific example of filching stuff from another shopper's trolley was not tested but from other tests I would expect the system to charge the correct person unless it is done by the toilets. The reviewer tried picking things up, putting them back, putting stuff away and trying to hide from the cameras. The system handled all of that fine.

      There were two classes of failure. The first shoppers are warned about: If you pick something up and leave it on the shelf next to the entrance to the toilets you will be charged for it. The trick that worked was to sign in, pick stuff up, go to the toilets, get changed, come out, pick up more stuff and leave. Eventually you will be charged for the first set of purchases but not for the second. Amazon have been made aware of this cheat and perhaps they are dealing with it.

      Something else that was not tested in the review is a family shopping trip: What happens when a parent signs in and a child picks stuff up?

      The Amazon shops require customers to log in with their smart phones and pay by a credit card linked to an account. This is a problem under US and UK law: shops are required to accept cash. The lack of a cash option is a deal breaker for me. I also require a paper receipt. Hiding stuff up your jumper is not a crime but leaving the shop without paying is. I want the receipt as evidence that I have paid for the correct collection of purchases before I leave.

      At least this system is honest about recording you with hundreds of cameras. I have not seen any warnings about the existing system of tracking how your phone moves around the shop using the free WIFI.

      1. MJB7

        Re: Shops are required to accept cash

        No they are not. Shops are free to specify how they will accept payment. They may choose to only accept American Express charge cards if they want (although they may find it limits their market).

        The above is *certainly* true in England and Wales, and I am fairly sure it is true in the other jurisdictions in the UK, and in most of the more than 50 different jurisdictions in the US (states, DC, reservations). I cannot rule out the possibility that some US jurisdictions do require shops to take cash.

        1. Come to the Dark Side

          Re: Shops are required to accept cash

          Businesses can accept whatever form of payment they like in exchange for goods/services. Legal tender only means that a debt cannot be said to be unpaid if an item classed as legal tender was offered for the value of the debt.

          https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/knowledgebank/what-is-legal-tender

          In the US, I believe it is the same but there are some states that have passed laws to make cashless stores illegal (Connecticut, Massachussets and New Jersey I think).

        2. Jon 37 Silver badge

          Re: Shops are required to accept cash

          Here's an article from last year about various US jurisdictions that require shops to take cash:

          https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-san-francisco-cashless-businesses-20190507-story.html

          There was also a suggestion that the UK should have similar laws, but I'm not aware of any politicians taking that seriously yet. See the last line of:

          https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47456698

          The issue is that many poor or technology-illiterate people don't have credit or debit cards, they only use cash, so if all shops become card-only that will be a problem for those people. That will need to be addressed somehow in the coming years - either we let all those people starve because they can't buy food any more (morally unacceptable and probably politically unacceptable), or we ensure they get cards and training on how to use them, or we require some or all shops to accept cash.

      2. Jon 37 Silver badge

        Re: Pickpockets paradise

        > Something else that was not tested in the review is a family shopping trip: What happens when a parent signs in and a child picks stuff up?

        There was a picture of the instructions in the article. You can let other people in, such as your children. But you have a shared "virtual shopping cart". So if you let them in, then if they pick stuff up and it isn't put back, you will pay for those items.

      3. JohnFen

        Re: Pickpockets paradise

        > This is a problem under US and UK law: shops are required to accept cash.

        In the US this is not generally true, although there are a couple of places that have passed such laws, and I expect that trend will continue.

        > The lack of a cash option is a deal breaker for me.

        Me too. Additionally, any requirement that I provide identity information (credit card, randomized identifier, etc.) is a deal breaker.

        > I have not seen any warnings about the existing system of tracking how your phone moves around the shop using the free WIFI.

        Yes, this is an increasingly common thing for shops to do, regardless of how they manage payments. And most people still don't have any inkling that this is happening. That this happens is why I put my phone into airplane mode when I enter any shops.

      4. GBE

        Nobody is required to accept cash (except the issuer).

        This is a problem under US and UK law: shops are required to accept cash.

        In the US, that's utter bollocks. Nobody except the US Government is required to accept US currency. A friend of mine who works at "the Fed' used to occasionally have to work in customer service answering phone calls from the public. A consistent portion of calls are from people complaining that some shop, utility, landlord, school, city, state, county, or whatever won't accept cash. The callers are told that nobody except the US Government is required to accept US currency. [Even then, the hoops you have to jump through to pay your taxes in cash would kill a normal person.]

        1. Unindicted Co-conspirator

          Re: Nobody is required to accept cash (except the issuer).

          "[Even then, the hoops you have to jump through to pay your taxes in cash would kill a normal person.]"

          Not entirely true. You can pay your taxes in cash at participating 7/11 stores although there is a $3.99 transaction fee and you're limited to $1000 per day.

  3. Peter 26

    Which businesses is this aimed at?

    I really struggle to understand which businesses they are aiming at with this as it's only going to work for everyday convenience items. All the larger retail stores wouldn't touch it with a barge pole for obvious reasons, leaving only the little guy running a corner store. But everyone knows the corner shops main way of making profit is by not declaring all the cash they receive so they won't want all these digital records.

    Maybe they are aiming it at the landlords of all the empty retail stores?

  4. JohnFen

    Under no circumstances

    I can't imagine a circumstance short of a serious emergency under which I'd willingly set foot in a place that implements this sort of thing. It's insane.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Under no circumstances

      Big Brother Bezos is watching you!

      You will obey or...

      Exterminate

      {you have been warned}

      1. richardcox13

        Re: Under no circumstances

        Big Brother Bezos is watching you and you will be assimilated.

        FIFY.

  5. slartybartfast

    How much?

    So when you check the app for your digital receipt and realise you’ve been overcharged, how do you prove it?

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