Amazon Opens a Full-Sized, Mostly Human-Free, Go Grocery Store

The next-gen physical shopping experience has a new, 10,000-square foot space

Why This Matters

Amazon is the world’s largest retailer and has been setting the tone for virtually every major online and in-store innovation since 1994. Its Go Stores not only do away with most clerks, there are also no cash registers or checkout. The small trial stores have been viewed as a local curiosity, but this almost full-sized grocery store signals larger ambitions. If you had trouble adjusting to self-checkout at Kroger’s, wait until you get a load of Amazon Go. For now the big store is in Seattle, but Amazon surely has plans to spread it to your hometown.

Amazon Go

Amazon unveiled its new 10,400 square foot Amazon Go Grocery Story in Seattle. According to CNBC, this is the retail giant’s first “full-sized” cashless store modeled on the 25 smaller Go locations, which Amazon first unveiled at its Seattle headquarters in 2016.

I don’t need another grocery store. Right, who does? Amazon Go Grocery, however, isn’t like your local Stop and Shop. Every product is individually labeled and priced (each banana—not banana bunch—has a price) and a raft of technology tracks each product and shopper. There are the sensors that track customers walking in, beacons that keep track of where they are in the store, sensors that see them pulling a tomato off the shelf and put it into their basket, and a sensor to track when they walk out. That last one also handles payment. So don’t bring your cash to the Go store, just your Amazon Prime account. Some called this Amazon’s best retail idea yet.

We’ve got the meats…and other stuff: Amazon didn’t decide to start building this store after the launch of its first Go location. CNBC reports that construction started on the 610 E. Pikes St. supermarket back in 2015. Even though this store is still considerably smaller than a typical food store, it stocks roughly 5,000 items, including fresh produce, seafood, meat, bakery items, and household cleaning products.

Yes, but doesn’t Amazon already own Whole Foods? It does, but the company insists this is not about competing with its own brand. “We’re not trying to replace them,” Amazon VP Cameron Janes told CNBC.

Behind the scenes: It’s true, shopping for food stuffs and not even bothering to run a single scan—or be able to pay with cash— is highly disruptive. However, despite the shift of so much retail to online, the food retail industry remains highly lucrative, generating about $5.75 trillion in revenue in 2017. No wonder Amazon is so fixated on it.

Are my eggs cracked? If the Amazon Go Grocery Store is successful, your might find yourself moving through a weekly shopping run in record time. Sure, shopping in a space where few humans besides the customers exists might be a little weird, but Amazon Go stores still need clerks to stock the shelves, at least until they start installing the robots.


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