Amazon Go Stores – Exactly What are they?
Amazon Go is a chain of convenience stores operated by the online retailer Amazon, currently with four locations with three in Seattle and one in Chicago. The stores are all, currently, slightly different in format and it looks like Amazon are trialling the best possible combination. For example, the Seattle 7th and Blanchard store sell breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, grocery essentials, beer and wine whereas the store in Chicago 113 S Franklin St offers breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks.
Amazon states on their website that their Go Stores…
…offer delicious ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options made fresh every day by our on-site chefs and favorite local kitchens and bakeries. Our selection of grocery essentials ranges from staples like bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates. You’ll find well-known brands we love, plus special finds we’re excited to introduce to customers. For a quick home-cooked dinner, pick up one of our chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, with all the ingredients you need to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.
The focus does look to be towards offering quality ready prepared food as well as Amazon meal kits with all the ingredients to prepare fresh at home.
Other store formats are also being considered include a potential smaller drive-thru store where customers can order in advance then pick-up their items. Also under consideration, according to reports is a massive, discount style store. The final Go concept could end up being a variation of all of these or they may settle on one model for the majority of stores.
How does Amazon Go work?
The stores are checkout free and entrance is via an app. Quite simply, register on the Amazon Go app (available via the Apple Store, Google Play and Amazon Appstore), use the QR code to enter the store and then simply pick up your items and walk out. Payment is taken for the items you decide to purchase as you walk out. This is where the investment in their just walk out technology becomes serious. Amazon state that each store, currently, costs USD 1 million to set-up.
The concept is straightforward, once registered you never have to wait in line and an Amazon Go store. You enter Amazon Go, take the products you wish from the shelves and counters then leave. Anything you replace back onto the shelves is recognised by the technology to ensure you are not charged for items where you have changed your mind. Place items in bags, ideally that you’ve brought already and that’s it, no scanning required.
The checkout free stores are possible with the use of a number of various latest cutting-edge technology for its virtual cart such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision cameras, sensor fusion and user profiling.
As you leave the store, you can access your receipt via the Amazon Go app to allow you to check you have been charged correctly.
See the official Amazon video on how the store works –
There are still real people working at the stores to prepare the ready-to-eat food, stack shelves and of course to help customers. Amazon refer to their Go store staff as Associates.
The expansion plans for Amazon Go stores
It has been confirmed that they plan to open Amazon Go stores in New York City.
Amazon’s job board has several listings for various retail and management positions at an upcoming Amazon Go store in New York as well as the already open stores.
So far, no announcements have been made regarding the international expansion. The UK has been mentioned by some as a possible next route for these checkout free stores.
The future for checkout free stores to compete with Amazon Go?
Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced that after successful trails they will launch six checkout free, cashierless stores across London ready for Christmas 2018. Again, the expectation is the use of the store’s app for this.
The challenge has clearly been laid down by Amazon and it will be interesting to see if other retailers will develop similar or maybe even new technology utilizing AI, smartphone apps and maybe even some new technology in development and not yet known.
Expect some news from other retailers especially now M&S have announced their plans.