After four years spent aiming its cashierless stores at densely populated urban markets, Amazon Go wants to see if it can woo the commuters and on-the-go families of suburbia.
On Tuesday, the brand known for pioneering Just Walk Out technology opened its first suburban store in Mill Creek, Washington, about 25 miles north of Seattle. It’s the largest store in the fleet at 6,150 square feet, with the sales floor taking up roughly 3,250 square feet. And it features a wider range of items, including more multi-serve packs of snacks and groceries than traditional Go stores, as well as fresh and made-to-order foods like sandwiches, salads and avocado toasts.
As with other Go locations, visitors can scan into the Just Walk Out system using a QR code, credit card or by identifying themselves with the Amazon One palm-reading system.
The store incorporates some convenience store standbys along with some of the latest service stations that are popping up in c-stores across the country. There's a cold brew tap and two kombucha taps, made-to-order Starbucks coffee and espresso machines, an Icee dispenser, a Pinkberry frozen yogurt station and grab-and-go cases filled with everything from take-and-bake pizza to locally made donuts.
The crown jewel of the store is the made-to-order meal counter — a first for Amazon Go — where shoppers can order around 30 different items like sandwiches, salads, egg bowls and wraps using digital kiosks.
Unlike the short-lived offshoot Amazon Go Grocery, the newest Go store doesn’t carry a separate brand name. This comes as Amazon hones its brick-and-mortar stores, casting off the underwhelming 4-Star, Books and Pop Up locations and consolidating around its Go, Fresh, Whole Foods Market and brand new Amazon Style locations.
The newest Amazon Go also doesn’t offer e-commerce, which might seem surprising given its expanded assortment and suburban setting — not to mention Amazon’s prowess in the channel. But other companies have so far struggled to make money off the small orders and speedy delivery that have come to define convenience delivery.
According to Ayesha Harper, managing director of Amazon Convenience, Amazon Go may have new suburban digs, but it’s still focused on a quick, compelling in-store experience.
“We really still focus on people who are in a rush, time-starved and really want to be on their way. They're not spending a lot of time in our stores,” she said.
Amazon plans to open another suburban Go in the Los Angeles area later this year. It's also continuing to open urban Go locations. In November, Amazon opened a store with Starbucks that features Just Walk Out technology.
Here’s a look inside Amazon Go’s new suburban format.
Other Amazon Go stores have offered a large assortment of fresh prepared foods. But the Mill Creek location is the first one that has a made-to-order meal counter.
Harper said the more than two dozen selections, which span all three meal occasions, are unique to Amazon Go and were developed over time by the company’s in-house culinary team. Shoppers input their order, adding customized ingredients and instructions if they wish. The kitchen staff then takes a few minutes to prepare the order, and the Just Walk Out system adds the item to shoppers’ virtual tab once the employee hands it to them, Harper said.
“We started with a much broader range of items and landed on what we think is a really great, delicious range,” she said.
For a limited time, the store is offering avocado toast and breakfast sandwiches for $3, and all sandwiches and wraps for $6. Shoppers can bundle in a fountain soda and chips for an extra $2.49.
Numerous drinks (and fro-yo) on tap
In all of its other locations, Amazon Go offers coffee that’s brewed by store staff and available in commercial carafes. The Mill Creek store is the first one to offer self-serve made-to-order machines pouring 10 different Starbucks coffee drinks, including hot and cold options.
Located next to the coffee machines are tap handles that dispense Health-Ade kombucha and one handle that dispenses cold brew from local maker Rise.
In true c-store style, the store has fountain soft drinks and an Icee machine. It also has a Pinkberry self-serve frozen yogurt machine that offers two flavors and custom toppings.
The customer service counter
Another first at the Mill Creek Amazon Go is a customer service desk where shoppers can return Amazon packages, buy gift cards and ask questions. It’s also where customers have their IDs checked before entering the adjacent alcohol department.
“They can return a package, get a meal or grab a drink and just be on their way,” said Harper.
A larger alcohol and prepared foods assortment
A larger footprint means more of just about everything, including booze. The latest Amazon Go store offers six packs as well as twelve packs of beer, and numerous wine selections, including locally sourced options, for under $20. This includes Amazon’s own wine brand, Cursive.
Prepared foods include Amazon Kitchen brand soups and heat-and-eat pizzas, pastries from local bakeries and fresh sushi that’s delivered to the store daily.
Getting charged up
The store parking lot features two Volta Standard Level 2 charging stations that are free to use. For shoppers that need a different kind of fuel, there’s a rack along the side of the store filled with Blue Rhino propane tanks.