- Amazon Go is headed to New York City, the company confirmed last week, though it did not provide a timeline for opening or specify where in the city the store would be located.
- News website The Information spotted job listings for a store manager, assistant store manager and training lead for the location, and Amazon shortly after confirmed the expansion.
- Amazon Go requires customers to scan a QR code before they enter the store, then utilizes finely calibrated cameras and shelf weights to track what they’ve grabbed off the shelf before they leave. The company has opened three Go stores in Seattle, including one that opened just last week, and plans to open locations in Chicago and San Francisco.
Ever since Amazon opened its first cashier-free store in Seattle late last year, the question of just how big the concept will get has always loomed. Is Go just a gimmick or could it become a convenience store chain to rival the Wawas and 7-Elevens of the industry (and give plenty of supermarkets heartburn, as well)?
After this latest announcement that will plant Go in four major cities, it’s tempting to imagine a speedy ramp-up. With Amazon’s deep pockets and enthusiasm for quick convenience higher than it’s ever been, the high-tech stores could pop up in cities across the country. They’ve confirmed six — why not make it six hundred?
Amazon will keep testing consumer enthusiasm as it opens Go stores outside its Seattle hometown. These results will ultimately determine the concept’s course, but right now it’s hard to imagine Go being more than a showpiece for Amazon. As consultants for Oliver Wyman pointed out in the Harvard Business Review earlier this year, the stores may not make enough money to justify the pricey technology they require.
Competitors are also hot on Amazon’s heels, with Microsoft and numerous startups racing to implement cashier-less technology. Some companies, including AiFi, have said they’re able to cover large stores as well as small ones, thus opening up availability to supermarkets as well as c-stores.
So the more salient question may be: How big will cashier-free stores as a whole become? Grab-and-go shopping addresses a major pain point for consumers, but research also shows that consumers value the ritual and the customer service that comes with checking out at a register. A growing number of retailers have introduced skip-checkout apps for speedy, tech-forward shoppers, while others are spending money on better front-end management systems.
Grocers could struggle with the high-cost of implementing a cashier-free program. Then again, as the technology advances and competition tightens, costs could come down considerably.