Amazon opens first cashier-less Amazon Go Grocery store

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The FINANCIAL — The online retailing giant – Amazon opened its first-ever full-size, cashier-less grocery store. Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Later, Amazon will send you a receipt and charge your Amazon account. It is predicted the total number of Amazon Go stores would hit 56 by the end of this year and as many as 156 next year.

Amazon opened a cashier-less grocery store in Seattle on Tuesday, in an extension of its established Amazon Go convenience store concept, that allows consumers to do their weekly shopping without physically paying for it. Instead of physical payment, shoppers are tracked by cameras in the ceiling and under-shelf sensors that sense when something is picked up. Shoppers can then walk out with the items they pick up and the amount is taken from the card registered to their app, Forbes reported.

The new location is five times bigger than the existing Amazon Go corner shop-style locations — of which there are about 25 in cities across the US — but only roughly a third of the size of a typical Whole Foods location. Amazon bought the chain in 2017 for $13.7bn. Including Whole Foods, Amazon accounts for about 4 per cent of the US groceries market, said John Blackledge, an analyst at Cowen. Walmart, by contrast, commands about 25 per cent. Amazon said the system allowed multiple members of the same family be checked in under the same account. Shoppers should not, however, help someone else reach an item, otherwise they would be charged, since the system recognises the customer rather than the basket into which items are placed, according to Financial Times.

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The project, called Amazon Go Grocery, has been in development for five years. The new store contains nearly 5,000 items. The same cashier-less scanning technology has previously been used at several Amazon Go locations, designed to service business centers with breakfast and lunch foods. The new Amazon Go Grocery is created for consumers to fill their pantries with items to cook meals at home, not just premade food, The Hill wrote.

The store is 10,400 square feet overall, making it the largest use of Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology to date. Based in the company’s hometown of Seattle, the new Amazon Go Grocery store allows customers to shop for everyday grocery items like fresh produce, meat, seafood, bakery items, household essentials, dairy, easy-to-make dinner options, beer, wine and spirits and more. The end result is a grocery store with no lines or waiting. Meanwhile, store staff are freed up to take care of other aspects of the business like restocking shelves and customer service, TechCrunch reported.

For shopping at Amazon Go Grocery store all you need is an Amazon account, the free Amazon Go app, and a recent-generation iPhone or Android phone. You can find the Amazon Go app in the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore. When you arrive, scan the QR code from the app at the gate to enter the store, then feel free to put your phone away—you don’t need it to shop. Then just browse and shop like you would at any other store. See something you want? Grab it off the shelf and pack your bag or cart as you shop. Change your mind? Put it back, no problem. Once you’re done shopping, you’re on your way, as stated by Amazon.

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While Amazon has scaled up its physical retail offerings, the stores don’t generate much revenue for the company. Amazon said in its fourth-quarter results that the physical stores segment, which includes Whole Foods, had $4.4 billion in sales, which was a 1% decline from the year-ago period. One of Amazon’s quirkier attempts at physical retail are its Treasure Trucks. The mobile shopping kiosks are located in 30 cities across the country and offer one item selected by Amazon at a discount. Amazon will text users when a Treasure Truck has an item available in their area. Shoppers then purchase the item in the Amazon app and can pick it up the same day at a truck. Amazon opened its first cashier-free convenience store to the public in 2018. Since then, Amazon Go stores have expanded far beyond the first location at the company’s Seattle headquarters, CNBC wrote.

It projected that annual revenue from all Amazon Go stores would balloon from a mere $28 million in 2018 to as much as $639 million in 2020, according to internal Amazon documents from April 2018 that were viewed by The Information. It also projected that the annual cost of launching and operating the stores—including corporate employees on the project—would swell from $224 million in 2018 to as much as $474 million in 2020. And it predicted the total number of Amazon Go stores would hit 56 by the end of this year and as many as 156 next year, as reported by The Information.

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