SEATTLE -- Two months after the debut of the Amazon Go smart convenience store, which is being tested in Seattle, the online shopping giant has bigger brick-and-mortar retail plans, according to a report in the New York Post.
Amazon says: Not so.
Read on for details of the alleged smart supermarket as outlined in the newspaper and the reaction to the report from Amazon’s CEO himself …
Illustration by New York Post
Amazon is planning a larger version of its Amazon Go convenience store, the New York Post reported Feb. 5. The concept would only need three to 10 human employees looking after it at a time, the report said. Aside from providing enough staff for a little human interaction, stocking shelves and manning drive-thru windows for on-the-go customers, robots could cover the rest of the store’s operational needs.
The stores could span from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet across two stories. The first story could be devoted to shoppers and include up to 4,000 items, from vegetables and milk to alcohol and medicine. The second story could house robots picking through 15,000 to 20,000 consumer packaged goods and grocery staples. Similar to Amazon Go, customers could pay for groceries through the combination of a smartphone app and electronic sensors on the store’s shelves.
The article claims that the store’s labor and real-estate savings could result in operating profit margins of more than 20%.
An Amazon spokesperson refuted the report. “As we’ve said previously, it’s not correct,” the spokesperson told CSP Daily News. “We have no plans to build such a store.” Rumors have circulated since December that Amazon could be planning a larger format store, but CEO Jeff Bezos found the Post’s claims outrageous enough to respond publicly via Twitter.
Whoever the sources for the article were, they “mixed up their meds,” Bezos tweeted on Feb. 7, followed by another tweet the same day saying, “And on the NYPost article, if anybody knows how to get 20% margins in groceries, call me! :)” Yes, he included the sideways smiley face.
So, what is it about this New York Post article that has Bezos worked up enough to deny the claims so directly? True or not, the ideas in the Post article have the potential to change the grocery industry. The piece also draws attention to the store’s limited amount of human workers as a labor issue and raises the possibility that Amazon might deny entry to anyone who is not a “Prime” subscriber. Whatever the case, Bezos seems eager to manage speculation about Amazon's brick-and-mortar plans.