Is Amazon Go heading for a hard stop?
From the public relations push that followed the 2018 launch of Amazon Go, one might have surmised that it was only a matter of time until Just Walk Out technology supplanted all other forms of checkout in brick-and-mortar retail. This impression was bolstered by a report later that year that Amazon.com wanted to have some 3,000 Go stores in operation by 2021. A recent report indicates, however, that Amazon Go’s footprint is not expanding at anywhere near the pace once anticipated.
Amazon had planned to open 56 Go locations by the end of 2019 and 156 by the end of 2020, according to a story originally broken by The Information and discussed on The Verge. Amazon has in fact opened only 15 Go stores, all located in major metropolitan areas.
The apparent slowdown in expansion could be the result of numerous factors such as, among other possibilities, the cost of deployment, difficulty scaling the technology to handle more foot traffic and larger locations or concerns about low rates of shopper adoption outside of city centers.
Other retailers beyond Amazon may share concerns about the feasibility of deploying the technology at scale. There has been a wave of experimentation in Just Walk Out technology since the e-tailing giant announced its checkout-free concept. Some grocers and convenience stores have partnered with tech vendors to roll out similar solutions, while some vendors have launched their own standalone brick-and-mortar locations to compete directly with Amazon Go.
Further, speculation that Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology would eventually end up in Whole Foods has not yet come to fruition. This despite Amazon attempting to make Just Walk Out technology work in larger physical locations in Seattle, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Amazon, meanwhile, has been piloting new enhanced checkout solutions in Whole Foods based on biometric data — computer vision-enabled scans of customers’ hands — rather than Just Walk Out technology.
- Amazon Forecast $639M for ‘Go’ Stores by 2020 but Openings Fall Short – The Information
- Docs show Amazon planned to open dozens of cashierless Go stores this year — what’s the holdup? – The Verge
- Grocers develop their own tech responses to Amazon Go – RetailWire
- Amazon Tests Its Cashierless Technology for Bigger Stores – The Wall Street Journal
- Whole Foods wants a hand from shoppers at checkout – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: To what factor or factors do you attribute the slower-than-expected expansion of Amazon Go? What might this say about the feasibility of Just Walk Out technology at scale?