Amazon has big plans for its Go convenience store concept, based on its recent deal to open brick-and-mortar locations in Chicago and San Francisco.
The e-commerce giant announced on Thursday that it will open seven Go locations in Seattle over the next year. Customers will be able to head into the store, grab their bags and walk out of the facility within five minutes. That means there will be no checkout lines or conventional grocery prices. Rather, the displays are updated on the timeline of customers' shopping needs, matching the actual shopping list they leave the store with.
Go stores are just the latest in Amazon's efforts to expand its business beyond its core e-commerce strategy. After opening Amazon Go at its first location in Seattle in January 2017, the company has expanded that concept in multiple cities and have plans to open hundreds more by 2020.
At its annual Prime Day event on July 16, Amazon unveiled plans to open the physical stores to the public. Amazon Go is currently in limited beta testing, with the first three locations outside of Seattle: first in Chicago, followed by New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Amazon Go is a chain of standalone stores that attempt to nail the convenience of shopping online while keeping its tech advances, including sensors and cameras, in check. On a typical shopping trip, Amazon will bill you for the groceries you buy as soon as you leave the store, then reimburse you for any items you'd like to keep or return.
The so-called "Amazon Go store is part of the warehouse and delivery fulfillment system, moving easily between large distribution centers and individual consumer convenience stores," Amazon said in its original press release on the concept. "It combines the benefits of both technology and shopping experience to enable small but scaleable store operations."
A forthcoming private beta version lets customers grab a banana and start buying clothes, medical supplies and other items for about $15 per trip. The first Go store, which offers a selection of prepared dishes and groceries, is currently in beta in Amazon's Main Street in Seattle neighborhood.
In Seattle, the private beta includes items for a summer retreat, which have not yet made it on to the shelves. To sign up for the beta, visit the Go Store page on Amazon Go's website.
I gave it a try on Thursday, and found the store was a few steps closer to pure technological convenience than human convenience.
Apple needs to give up the whole store-and-try concept.
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