The “Amazon era”: how to shop without going to the checkout, or paying by hand
- Jeff Bezos’ company is constantly working to develop and implement technologies that make life easier for its users and revolutionise the world
- From physical shops where you walk away “without paying”, to technology that allows you to pay with the palm of your hand. Amazon is already much more than a platform for buying products
Since Amazon broke into the e-commerce business, nothing has been the same. The marketplace has changed our consumer habits, the way we humans shop and even interact with technology.
This fact has more implications than one might think at first glance, as it has brought about a change in society’s mentality, making these advantages become normal and driving the development and innovation of new technologies that simplify users’ day-to-day lives. All this makes Amazon not only the world’s largest marketplace, but also a global technology benchmark.
Here’s what two of their latest revolutions look like: Amazon Go and Amazon One.
Amazon One: pay, login and sign in with the palm of your hand
This revolutionary identification system literally puts the world in your hands. It was unveiled in mid-2020 but has now gone live.
This technology recognises the palm of your hand, both superficially scanning its shape, wrinkles and lines, and deeply scanning the branching of veins and capillaries. This provides a kind of biometric “digital signature” that the user can use even without an Amazon account, as it is only associated with a credit card and a phone number.
It is currently in operation as a payment method in 65 Whole Foods shops in California, but the Seattle-based company intends to extend its applications far beyond payments, and could be used as a method of access to private premises or official identification. Therefore, as Dilip Kumar pointed out, they plan to “offer the service to third parties such as other retail shops, stadiums and office buildings so that more people can benefit from its facility”.
Security as well as speed and comfort
Over the last few years, society has become increasingly familiar with biometric security systems, but why the palm of your hand and not your fingerprint or face? According to Amazon, it is because of security and privacypolicies.
Firstly, palm recognition is considered to offer a privacy advantage over other biometric alternatives such as facial recognition, since it is impossible to identify a person from an image of their hand.
On the other hand, having to make an intentional gesture by placing the palm of the hand on the recognition device implies a much more obvious explicit consent than in other systems. This allows customers to have greater control over when and where they use this service. What is also important, and even more so after the pandemic, is that it is a fully contactless technology, which provides additional hygienic security by not having to touch any device during the process.
And finally, Amazon One scanning devices are protected with multiple security controls. In addition, the scanned hand images are never stored on the devices, but are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area in the cloud.
Amazon Go: the supermarket where you “leave without paying”
It is a supermarket model without cash registers or cashiers and has been designed to put an end to the tedious task of queuing to pay. In these establishments, you simply take the products you want from the shelves and then leave.
All such shops have very powerful technology based on a large number of cameras and sensors that identify the customer as soon as they enter the shop with their Amazon account code. The system then keeps track of it throughout the shop and recognises, with great precision and accuracy, the products it selects. Once you have completed your purchase, you don’t have to check out, just leave the shop and your basket is automatically charged.
One of the curiosities of this business model is that the cashier is removed, as the ticket is issued directly by the system. Despite this, the rest of the shop is maintained by human labour, which consists of restocking, sorting and placing the products in their respective places, as well as helping customers and providing them with a good shopping experience.
This model is already available in the United States and the United Kingdom, where it has several shops in London, and it’s expected to land in Spain in 2024.
Amazon, with the implementation of new technologies, has had a strong impact on the technological revolution and on the consumer habits of citizens, both in terms of their shopping experience and their demands. The e-commerce giant seeks to simplify user tasks in order to meet their needs and make their daily tasks unique experiences with a tendency to repetition.