Courtesy Amazon

Today, e-commerce giant Amazon opened its first fully automated walk-in grocery store, Amazon Go, in downtown Seattle. Though it is not the company's first foray into brick-and-mortar retail—Amazon Books currently has 13 physical locations across the U.S.—the futuristic shop made headlines when an initial concept was announced in 2016. The buzz was largely due to the enticing idea of a convenience store that offered a more streamlined customer experience by completely eliminating the time-consuming checkout process. But how do they do it?

The store was designed specifically for easy access and user experience, but customers should know that this tech-savvy establishment does not run on an honor code system, nor would it be easy to shoplift even the smallest of items. The 1,800-square-foot store is teeming with shelf sensors and small cameras that follow the movement of every customer and item in the space. Technology correspondent Nick Wingfield from the New York Times reports that Amazon is keeping mum on the exact details of how the entire system works, but credits the use of "computer vision and machine learning software," in the functionality of what the tech company calls its "Just Walk Out Technology." The presence of this integrated system means that there is also no need for special chips or magnetic security tags on every item in the store. "At Amazon Go," Wingfield says, "checking out feels like—there’s no other way to put it—shoplifting."

Courtesy Amazon

But of course, it's not stealing at all. In order to walk into the store, each customer must have an Amazon account and the free Amazon Go application downloaded onto their smartphones. Customers scan a QR code from the app at digital turnstiles to gain entry. After that, users are free to use their own bags to grab what they need; each item will be added to their virtual cart as they go. Customers will not need to look at their phones until checking the total of their purchases before leaving. Once a customer walks out of the store, Amazon charges the card on file and sends along an electronic receipt of their purchases.

The Amazon Go store is currently still in its testing stages, and the company has not yet announced any official plans to open additional locations. Despite this, the MIT Technology Review reports that Dilip Kumar, vice president of technology for Amazon Go, says the company does hope to open more store in the future. There are also rumblings that Amazon might end up selling the technology system to other retailers, but only time will tell what the global company will decide. In the meantime, visitors to the Seattle location get to have a shopping experience that balances efficiency with a sense of mild anxiety caused by the lack of physical checkout registers.

Don't live in or near Seattle? Watch the video below to see what the customer experience would be like: