Amazon goes bigger with its cashier-less store concept
Amazon.com is debuting its largest cashier-less food concept today with the opening of the Amazon Go Grocery store in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.
The new location, which measures 10,400-square-feet, has been a work in progress for Amazon going back to 2015. At roughly five times the size of the average Go, the store carries around 5,000 SKUs, including fresh produce, meat, bakery and other items typically found in a supermarket.
In a Wall Street Journal interview, Dilip Kumar, vice president of Amazon Go, said that the company has worked out a lot of the issues with the technology used to run its cashier-less stores and store size is no longer an insurmountable challenge.
“We’ve learned a lot,” Mr. Kumar said. “There’s no real upper bound. It could be five times as big. It could be 10 times as big.”
The store’s produce is sourced from suppliers to Amazon’s Whole Foods business. Produce items are priced individually, with avocados sold for 49 cents, for example.
Amazon Go Grocery is being developed as a complementary concept to Whole Foods and not as a replacement, according to Cameron Janes, vice president, physical stores at Amazon.
In an interview with CNBC, Mr. Janes declined to forecast how many Go Grocery stores Amazon might open in the future.
“We’re just getting started here,” he said. “I think what we’re trying to do here — and with all of our physical stores — is really work backwards from the customer and deliver some differentiation.”
The opening of the Go Grocery would appear to put to rest for the time being any rumors that technological and financial challenges have slowed the expansion of Amazon’s cashier-less concept. Last September, The Information broke a report that said Amazon was well short of its unit goals for Go. The e-tail giant had only 15 stores operating vs. its planned objective of 56 the end of 2019 and 156 by the end of this year.
Amazon is not alone in its quest to eliminate the need for traditional checkouts, the least favorite part of shopping in retail stores. Earlier this month, 7-Eleven announced it was testing a 700-square-foot cashier-less store at its corporate headquarters in Texas. The pilot store was designed in-house using custom-built technology from the convenience store’s engineers.
Technology startups and other competitors to Amazon, including Giant Eagle, are also testing similar concepts.
Veeve, a company founded by former Amazon and Google employees, has built a shopping cart solution that purports to track all merchandise being removed from store shelves while eliminating the need to stop at a physical checkout. The cart includes a means to weigh produce, a stumbling block for cashier-less technology in grocery stores.
- We go inside Amazon’s brand-new grocery store (no cashiers in sight)/CNET – YouTube
- Amazon Opens Cashierless Supermarket in Latest Push to Sell Food – The Wall Street Journal
- Amazon is opening its first full-size, cashierless grocery store. Here’s a first look inside – CNBC
- Amazon expands physical footprint with bigger cashier-less grocery shop – Reuters
- Is Amazon Go heading for a hard stop? – RetailWire
- 7-Eleven tries out an Amazon Go-like store – RetailWire
- Grocers develop their own tech responses to Amazon Go – RetailWire
- Are smart carts a smarter way to ‘Just Walk Out’? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to the opening of the Amazon Go Grocery store? Do you expect Amazon will now move full steam ahead with its Go expansion? What do you think Amazon’s competitors are thinking about this news?