Although Amazon will forever be associated with e-commerce, the Big Tech giant has recently been working to expand its brick and mortar presence. It is doing so with a tech-heavy flair, utilizing cashierless systems to track what customers are purchasing as they pull items off the shelf.
Now, it’s expanding the Amazon Go model from convenience stores to a full-blown grocery store. On Tuesday, it opened a new location in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district. It will be an important test for the cashierless system and could help Amazon determine if it is a viable long-term investment.
Non-Traditional Grocery Shopping
The last few years have seen a departure from the typical grocery-buying experience. Consumers are looking for new ways to shop that are more convenient and efficient. For some, this means shopping online and picking their items up at the store. Others are utilizing new grocery delivery services from the likes of Amazon and Walmart.
However, many people still prefer the experience of actually going to the store and hand-selecting their own groceries. Amazon’s Go stores combine the convenience factor of modern shopping with the ability to visit a location in real-life.
The ambitious Seattle grocery store will operate much like a typical Amazon Go convenience store. Customers simply grab the items they want and a network of hundreds of cameras and smartphone geofencing charges them accordingly. They can then pay with an Amazon account. The company is also working on more novel payment systems like biometric hand scanners for those who don’t have an Amazon account.
Seattle’s new location will differ from Go convenience stores by stocking more than 5,000 items, including fresh foods and produce. Notably, Amazon will sell a variety of items from its Whole Foods suppliers and stock Whole Foods’ 365 brand. However, the grocery store will also offer products that don’t typically show up at its subsidiary’s organic-focused locations. For instance, shoppers can stock up on Kellogg’s cereal and Coke products.
So far, Amazon has struggled to break into the corner store sector. That’s somewhat comical considering that such locations have been a staple of family-run businesses for decades. The fact that one of the world’s largest companies can’t get it right is noteworthy.
It may be a sign that consumers really don’t care about cashierless checkouts. After all, ringing up a bottle of soda and a bag of chips doesn’t take more than a few seconds. However, an automated grocery store might create a different reaction.
Whereas convenience stores rely on foot traffic, a grocery store draws customers in regardless of their mode of transportation. Meanwhile, not having to check out with a cartful of items could be an attractive proposition for many people.
If Amazon is able to keep its prices low and get its Go system working without technological glitches, the experiment could finally pay off.
Should the location prove successful it could pave the way for many more Amazon Go stores in the future. Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology, Dilip Kumar, says, “How big it gets and how fast it goes, customers get to decide that.”
Seattle-area customers who want to visit the new location can check it out at 610 E. Pike Street. It’s hard to miss considering that it is a sprawling 10,400 square feet.