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Amazon Go Tech in Restaurants Could Enable Legal "Dine and Dash"

March 27, 2017

Restaurant automation is nothing new. Cash takes a back seat to credit, server notepads have become mobile tablets, kitchen tickets show up on a kitchen display screen, and clunky cash registers have evolved into modern point of sale systems.

This - however - is something totally new.

It’s been a few months since Amazon announced their concept for Amazon Go in 2016. This brick-and-mortar grocery store for the modern shopper allows people to walk in, take the items they want from the shelf, and leave - it’s that simple.

The “Just Walk Out” technology requires users to tap their Amazon app upon entering and uses computer vision technology to detect what they take from the store.

Some skeptics and opponents haven’t reacted positively to the idea. The concept has sparked some sarcastic parody videos and harsh criticism about its potential impact on retail jobs for workers.

However, despite the potential inch toward a robot-governed dystopian future, Amazon Go is brilliantly innovative for commerce.

Walk in. Take what you want. Walk out.

But what does this mean for the future of restaurants? Will they lose business to more grocery stores since the lines won’t be as long? Will restaurants be pushed to adopt their own versions of “Just Walk Out” technology?

Dine and Dash - Legally

Today, “Just Walk Out” technology is operational in a single Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle. The focus has been on retail so far, but - unsurprisingly - it’s got us thinking about its potential application in the restaurant industry.

What if computer vision technology could capture what proteins were being added to your burrito in a fast casual line? We’re halfway there with payment tools like Apple and Samsung Pay, not to mention the influx of self-serve kiosks popping up around the country.

This concept could even be applied to a full-service restaurant without eliminating the valuable face-to-face experience with a server or sommelier.

Imagine a world where you walk into a upscale restaurant and scan a mobile app at the host stand or at the table. You order from the kind and knowledgeable server who uses a handheld tablet to send your order to the kitchen (okay, maybe that part’s not so futuristic). When you’ve finished your meal, you get up and walk out. The POS system recognizes your mobile scan and the table where you sat, and charges the meal to your account. Maybe you can even split the check and leave a tip right in the app.

Diners would no longer be required to wait for the check. Servers wouldn’t have to touch the table three times to charge a credit card. Restaurants would eliminate the time it takes for those transactions to take place.

Walk in. Order. Eat. Walk out.

No Payments, More Profits

With a hands-free payment option at restaurants, diners would no longer be required to wait for the check (46% of them said they would like a mobile option). Servers wouldn’t have to touch the table three times to charge a credit card. Restaurants could eliminate the time it takes for those transactions to take place and serve more guests in a shorter period of time.

If servers with tablets at the table can increase turn times by up to 20%, as we’ve seen at Toast, the increased efficiency with a “Just Walk Out” technology could be astronomical.

Not surprisingly, some startups have already caught wind of this technology trend.

Reserve, a consumer app for restaurant discovery and reservations, invested in this concept last year. They acquired Dash, a technology startup that’s building the “pay and go” mobile app for restaurants.

“Dine and dash” payments have the potential to benefit both the customer and the restaurant itself.

Robots are just around the corner.

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