Commerse, Earnings and Savings :: World finance

Amazons new grocery store wont have any checkout lines

AMAZON has unveiled its vision for grocery stores — and it doesn’t include cashiers. Or checkout lines.

The web-retailing giant is opening a hi-tech convenience store near its Seattle headquarters where shoppers will swipe the stores app as they pass through turnstile-like entrance ways and then grab a sandwich or other product and just walk out.

The technology will do the rest tally up the purchase, charge it to the credit card linked to the app and email the person the receipt as they hit the sidewalk.

Amazon declined to say how many of the stores, called Amazon Go, it plans to open but experts said the prototype looks like a bid to automate supermarkets and convenience stores worldwide.

The secret behind Amazon Go is some nifty electronic sensors and artificial-intelligence equipment in fixtures that surround the aisles.

As a customer grabs items from shelves from essentials like bread and milk to artisanal cheese and chocolates and ready-made meals the items appear in virtual shopping carts on the app, according to a video released Monday.

The tech is so good, Amazon boasts in the video, that it can also sense when a customer puts an item back on the shelf it removes it from the virtual cart as well.

When leaving the store, shoppers pass back through a bank of turnstile-like electronic sensors that trigger the app to add up everything theyre carrying.

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning, Amazon said on an FAQ page.

And like self-driving cars, the checkout-free tech, which Amazon has branded Just Walk Out, could threaten jobs. Currently, there are 3.5 million cashiers across the US, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the technology reaches Australian shores, it could also have a huge impact, with 1.2 million people working in retail - our countrys second largest employer.

Still, in the demo video, the Amazon Go store appears to staffed with chefs preparing ready-made meals and orange-shirted clerks keeping shelves stocked.

The brick-and-mortar prototype looks like an admission by Jeff Bezos, Amazons billionaire boss, that web retailing has its limits especially when it comes to groceries, an $US800 billion business in the US.

Although an increasing number of people are buying and willing to buy groceries online in the future, we acknowledge some people may never be comfortable with the idea, Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge wrote in a research note. Hence Amazon introducing physical locations makes a lot of sense as it removes a friction point.

In a Monday blog post, Amazon also said the new store will be a destination for Amazon Meal Kits a box of ingredients that can be prepped and cooked at home in 30 minutes.

The 167 square-metre store, currently open only to Amazon employees, will be opened to the public in early 2017.

Last year, Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle.

This article originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission.

Apartment boom risks start showing rba

THE risks of oversupply the Brisbane and Melbourne apartment markets are “coming to the fore”, the Reserve Bank warns.

The RBA says the financial system is in good shape overall, particularly with home price growth slower than a year ago, tighter lending standards and slower credit growth to households. However, the central bank says the risks from apartment oversupply in some markets are now starting to show.

These risks appear greatest in inner-city Brisbane and Melbourne, where new supply is largest relative to existing dwelling stock, the Reserve Bank said in its biannual Financial Stability Review on Friday.

Developers face the risk that off-the-plan sales of apartments in these areas fail to settle due to tighter lending standards for buyers (particularly nonresidents or those relying on foreign income) and valuations at settlement below the contract price.

The RBA said there were already signs that some settlements were coming in below their contract price, though the number of settlement failures was low. The review said banks had recently restricted lending to borrowers relying on foreign income, which could further trim demand for inner-city apartments.

The central bank also noted that local banks had recently boosted their capital, in line with new standards, but reduced their focus on lower-return activities to meet their return-on-equity expectations over the medium term.

These behaviours need to be watched closely to ensure any behavioural changes do not materially increase systemic risk, the review noted.

Meanwhile, the central bank sees the high level of debt in China, despite slower growth and signs of excess capacity in some areas, as the most pronounced global risk.

While authorities in China have the levels to support growth, using many of them would likely entail a further increase in debt that could increase risks to long-term reform and stability, the RBA added.