Amazon’s automated grocery store of the future opens Monday

In this Thursday, April 27, 2017, file photo, people walk past an Amazon Go store in Seattle. Amazon Go shops are convenience stores that don't use cashiers or checkout lines, but use a tracking system that of sensors, algorithms, and cameras to determine what a customer has bought. (AP)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Amazon’s automated grocery store of the future opens Monday

SEATTLE: Amazon.com Inc. will open its checkout-free grocery store to the public on Monday after more than a year of testing, the company said, moving forward on an experiment that could dramatically alter brick-and-mortar retail.
The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. Cash registers and checkout lines become superfluous — customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.
For grocers, the store’s opening heralds another potential disruption at the hands of the world’s largest online retailer, which bought high-end supermarket chain Whole Foods Market last year for $13.7 billion. Long lines can deter shoppers, so a company that figures out how to eradicate wait times will have an advantage.
Amazon did not discuss if or when it will add more Go locations, and reiterated it has no plans to add the technology to the larger and more complex Whole Foods stores.
The convenience-style store opened to Amazon employees on Dec. 5, 2016 in a test phase. At the time, Amazon said it expected members of the public could begin using the store in early 2017.
But there have been challenges, according to a person familiar with the matter. These included correctly identifying shoppers with similar body types, the person said. When children were brought into the store during the trial, they caused havoc by moving items to incorrect places, the person added.
Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, said in an interview that the store worked very well throughout the test phase, thanks to four years of prior legwork.
“This technology didn’t exist,” Puerini said, walking through the Seattle store. “It was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”
“If you look at these products, you can see they’re super similar,” she said of two near-identical Starbucks drinks next to each other on a shelf. One had light cream and the other had regular, and Amazon’s technology learned to tell them apart.
HOW IT WORKS
The 1800-square-foot (167-square-meter) store is located in an Amazon office building. To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile.
Ready-to-eat lunch items greet shoppers when they enter. Deeper into the store, shoppers can find a small selection of grocery items, including meats and meal kits. An Amazon employee checks IDs in the store’s wine and beer section.
Sleek black cameras monitoring from above and weight sensors in the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people take.
If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged. If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.
Much of the store will feel familiar to shoppers, aside from the check-out process. Amazon, famous for dynamic pricing online, has printed price tags just as traditional brick-and-mortar stores do.


India’s Jet Airways and Saudi Arabia’s flynas strike codeshare deal to boost inter-city travel

Updated 12 December 2018
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India’s Jet Airways and Saudi Arabia’s flynas strike codeshare deal to boost inter-city travel

  • Under the agreement, travelers will be able to use either airline for their trips between the two countries and on some domestic connections
  • Codeshare agreement will support close to 6 million passengers who travel between Saudi Arabia and India for religious tourism and business purposes

LONDON: The Indian airline Jet Airways has signed a codeshare agreement with Saudi Arabia’s budget airline flynas, which will improve the connectivity between major Indian and Saudi Arabian cities.
Under the agreement, travelers will be able to use either airline for their trips between the two countries and on some domestic connections.
Flights are on sale now with customers able to travel on codeshare flights from Tuesday.
“This partnership is an important step in-line with flynas’ expansion and development strategy. Through such agreements we aim to offer a continually improved service to our passengers by adding more travel routes and expanding our reach regionally and internationally, in particular to key markets such as India,” said flynas’ CEO, Bander Al-Mohanna.

 

Jet Airways will place its marketing code “9W” on flynas flights between Dammam and Jeddah and Riyadh. The code will also be placed on connections from those cities to the holy city of Madinah as well as Gizan, Gassim, Taif and Abha. This will enable Jet Airways customers to fly into one Saudi city and leave via another.
Flynas will place its marketing code XY on Jet Airways’ international flights connecting Jeddah to Mumbai, Riyadh to Mumbai and Delhi. It will also cover flights from Dammam to Mumbai and Delhi.
Flynas will place its code on some destinations within Jet Airways domestic network, via Mumbai to Delhi, Kochi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Lucknow as well as via Delhi to Bengaluru, Lucknow, Chennai and Kochi.
The codeshare agreement will support close to 6 million passengers who travel between Saudi Arabia and India for religious tourism and business purposes, said Marnix Fruitema, executive vice president — commercial, Jet Airways.
“Saudi Arabia is the second largest international travel market to and from India,” he said in a statement.

FACTOID

Saudi Arabia is the second largest international travel market to and from India.