- More details are emerging that indicate Amazon is indeed preparing to open a 10,400-square-foot Go store in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. This would be by far its largest Go store to date.
- A neighborhood blogger took pictures looking inside the space that indicate it is an Amazon Go. Bloomberg came to a similar conclusion in a piece that detailed the history of the Go project, writing, "If you stand on the sidewalk and squint through a gap in the frosted glass, you can just make out the telltale shelving of what appears to be an Amazon Go store."
- According to Bloomberg, the Capitol Hill store was supposed to be the first Go store — and a supermarket at that, complete with a meat and seafood department, cheesemonger and produce section. The company put the opening on hold after deciding to shift to a convenience store model in 2015 in order to streamline the experience.
A bigger Go store — assuming that's what this location is — would be interesting for a couple reasons. It would show that Amazon's technology is capable of operating in a space larger than a typical convenience store. Sizing flexibility would expand the range of locations where Go could open.
It would also open up the store's assortment and make room for new services. For example, floor plans posted earlier this month by Geekwire show a "Seating & Heating" section of the store, where customers could presumably post up for a quick lunch or snack.
The store could allot space for online order fulfillment as well. According to the Geekwire report, the location has roughly 7,000 square feet of selling space with the remaining 3,000 feet or so dedicated to back-of-house operations. Go stores to date have been focused on foot traffic, but given the momentum around meal and alcohol delivery and Amazon’s push to utilize its physical assets for online fulfillment, it’s not a stretch to imagine Go stores going omnichannel.
A larger footprint for Go could indicate a shift toward the supermarket model Amazon originally planned, though that seems unlikely since departments like meat and produce were deemed inefficient to the store’s goal of a fast, streamlined shopping experience. None other than CEO Jeff Bezos poured cold water on that initial plan, according to Bloomberg, after shopping a test store and determining that the experience, which included a meat and cheese counter and a produce department, felt "disjointed."
What seems most likely is that this new location is another test for Amazon in a space that it conveniently owned and wanted to utilize. The e-commerce giant is a notorious tinkerer. However, as Bloomberg notes, Amazon Go is now in its seventh year as a project and hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole. The pressure is on for the concept to produce.
Meanwhile, other retailers are working feverishly to keep pace in this new arms race. Numerous chains have introduced programs that allow shoppers to scan and checkout with their smartphones. Others are working on tech that mimics Amazon Go in just about every way. Tesco is piloting checkout-free technology through Israel’s Trigo vision, according to reports, while Giant Eagle has teamed up with Grabango on a skip-checkout concept.