CHICAGO — Amazon’s path to physical retail might go far beyond Amazon Go.
Over the course of March 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon could open “dozens” of grocery stores in multiple major cities in the United States; the Capitol Hill Seattle blog reported that Amazon is opening 10,000 square feet of retail in Seattle; and Whole Foods Market launched its take on convenience stores.
Meanwhile, opposition to Amazon Go and other cashless concepts continues to trend as state and city legislators across the country consider banning cashless stores in their respective districts.
Click through for more on what Amazon has been up to in the past month and what it means for convenience …
Amazon is starting its rollout of grocery stores with a location in Los Angeles, possibly by the end of 2019, according to the Journal. The grocery chain will reportedly be separate from Whole Foods Market, but whether the store will carry the Amazon name is unconfirmed.
Though it could not pinpoint where exactly, the newspaper also reported that Amazon has already signed leases for two additional grocery locations to open next year. Potential locations include San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Signed leases do not necessarily guarantee the grocery stores will open, the report said.
New Seattle location
Local news source Capitol Hill Seattle discovered Amazon was working in a 10,000-square-foot space when it ran across a city permit for an elevator in a long-unused building on 600 E. Pike St. owned by the e-retailer.
The space could conceivably be another Amazon Go location, but it would be the largest by far at 10,000 square feet. Or it could be one of the first iterations of Amazon’s rumored grocery concept.
Small Whole Foods 2.0
After scrapping its 365 by Whole Foods Market medium-format locations, the Austin, Texas-based, Amazon-owned grocer recently launched the small-format Whole Foods Market Daily Shop in New York City. The store sits beside a full-sized Whole Foods Market. The store carries produce, a coffee, juice and kombucha bar, self-checkout stations and more.
While there is no direct sign of Amazon’s involvement, Whole Foods signaled it would no longer move forward with the 365 locations after Amazon acquired the grocer. Whether Amazon is advising Whole Foods on its grocery moves, the e-retailer is undoubtedly having an effect on it.
A movement to ban cashless stores that started in Philadelphia has spread elsewhere in the United States. New Jersey followed suit with a statewide ban. San Francisco recently proposed a ban on cashless stores, including Amazon Go and the Nestle-owned Blue Bottle coffee shops. There is also a growing movement within the New York City Council to impose a similar ban.
As more areas consider a cashless ban, Jed Rice, global head of innovation for PayPal, said during CSP’s recent Customer Engagement Forum in Chicago that the current trend of cashless bans in America is a temporary political trend that will not last.
Regardless of the size of the stores Amazon opens next, frictionless checkout will continue to be a differentiator for Amazon Go, and the concept will continue to push retail technology forward toward ubiquitous frictionless checkout.