Is hot food the ingredient Amazon Go has been lacking?
When Amazon Go launched it was billed as the future of the convenience store, but the fully-automated retail store had one notable omission — no hot bar. Now, Amazon has plans to reopen a location with hot food and other add-ons that customers have come to expect from a trip to the convenience store.
Hot food, espresso and fountain sodas will be available at one Amazon Go location in San Francisco after its renovation, according to Yahoo Finance — that is provided the request Amazon made from the city’s Department of Health on January 21 goes through. Another Amazon Go location in the area is closed for renovations, indicating the company may be planning the same enhanced selection.
With hot and prepared food becoming more important than ever to the convenience store space in the past few years, Amazon.com may be piloting these offerings to both compete more effectively with traditional convenience stores and get customers who are still uncomfortable with Just Walk Out technology to give it a try.
Such additions, however, could raise their own challenges. Hot food is high maintenance, and numerous sources have identified the proliferation of hot food at grocery and convenience stores as a significant cause for the uptick in foodborne illness since 2014.
Despite its high profile in the industry, Amazon Go may be in need of a big consumer draw. A report last year indicated that Amazon had fallen far short of its initial rollout plan, achieving a footprint of only 15 stores by fall of 2019. This raised suspicions that a number of factors, such as high deployment costs and hesitation by consumers to adopt Just Walk Out shopping, could be standing in the way of the automated store’s success.
The redesign of the two San Francisco locations, however, indicates that Amazon is pressing forward with the format, as are some of its competitors in autonomous checkout.
Last year, for instance, competitor Zippin launched an automated concession stand at the stadium home of the Sacramento Kings, according to CStore Decisions. The company has also released a modular “store-in-a-box” that allows retailers to launch a 300-500 square foot autonomous micro-store within three weeks.
- Amazon To Offer Hot Food, Espresso, Fountain Soda In California Convenience Store – Yahoo
- Will Whole Foods stay fresh using outside suppliers? – RetailWire
- Zippin Closes on $12 Million in Funding Led by Kraft Heinz-Backed Evolv Ventures – CStore Decisions
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are food and drink offerings compatible with Just Walk Out technology? What technological challenges will Amazon Go have to overcome to manage this new set of offerings successfully?