BN-RB901_amazon_P_20161205154449
December 6, 2016

Amazon will open high-tech grocery stores with no checkout line

E-commerce giant Amazon.com officially entered the brick-and-mortar world on Monday as it unveiled a cashier-less grocery store in the company’s hometown of Seattle, and reports indicate that the 1,800-square-foot location is only the first part of a much larger plan.

Dubbed Amazon Go, the new convenience shop allows customers to walk in, take the items they want to buy, charge it to their existing Amazon account, and walk out of the store, according to The Verge. Individuals use an app when they enter the store, and an array of cameras and sensors keep track of the items they take with them when they leave, eliminating the need for checking out.

The company recently released a video detailing how the project should work:

Amazon Go will stock typical convenience store items such as snacks, drinks, milk and bread, as well as pre-made food products, and a report from The Wall Street Journal suggests that it is one of at least 2,000 such grocery shops that the online retailer hopes to open throughout the US.

In fact, the Journal indicates that Amazon is considering two additional store formats in addition to the convenience outlet. Sources familiar with the website’s plans told the newspaper that their tech team approved a proposal to open several large, multifunction stores featuring curbside pickup in November, as well as two drive-through only locations scheduled to open in a few weeks.

Reports: retailer to build thousands of brick-and-mortar stores

If the test locations perform well, Amazon plans to ultimately open more than 2,000 of its brick-and-mortar grocery stores, challenging prominent grocer Kroger, which according to the Journal runs approximately 2,800 stores in 35 different states. The stores offering curbside service would be designed to challenge similar centers run by Target and Walmart, The Verge added.

The retail convenience shops and grocery stores are “part of their secret sauce in terms of all of the different ways in which they can engage the customer in bringing the product to them,” Bill Bishop of retail consultancy Brick Meets Click, told the Journal Monday. “Everyone is looking at grocery because of frequency. Frequency guarantees that you have density.”

While an Amazon spokeswoman declined the Journal’s and The Verge’s requests for comment, reports indicate that the drive-through prototypes are currently under construction in the Seattle area. As for the larger, chain-style stores, they would be between 30,000 and 40,000 square feet in size and would allow customers to use touch screens to order in store, then use curbside service to pick up their purchases at a later time. Said orders could also be placed online.

The current Seattle-based Amazon Go location is currently open only to Amazon employees, but is expected to open to the general public early next year. The soon-to-open drive-through centers are currently under construction in the suburban Seattle neighborhood of Ballard, and individuals close to the project have told the Journal that they will open within the next few weeks.

“The third concept, the newly approved multi-format store, combines in-store shopping with curbside pickups,” the newspaper noted, again citing its unnamed sources. “It will likely adopt a 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot floor plans and spartan stocking style... offering a limited fresh selection in store and more via touch-screen orders for delivery later. Stores in this format, which are smaller than traditional US grocery stores, could start appearing late next year.”

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Image credit: Amazon