Amazon is reportedly planning a dramatic expansion of its cashierless AmazonGo convenience stores, with up to 3,000 brick and mortar locations in the offing by 2021.
Bloomberg sources say Amazon is aggressively pursuing a plan to make the scan-and-go locations as common in US towns as chains like 7-Eleven, Subway and Panera Bread.
According to the report, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is experimenting with the best format for the stores with the three existing locations offering a limited selection of groceries, as well as lunchtime eats akin to the Pret A Manger chain in the UK.
The company currently has just four stores (three in its Seattle homeland and one in Chicago), but is likely to have 10 buy the end of the year. The report says that’ll grow to 50 in 2019.
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Bloomberg’s sources say the major barrier to expansion is the obvious one – cost. The first store required $1 million in hardware to establish, which is easy to imagine given how they operate.
Each item in the store is added to a customer’s shopping basket as it is removed from the shelf, with users simply able to scan the app on the way out.
If the company is to focus on fresh, lunch-break style foods, the cost of producing those sandwiches and salads is also likely to be massively prohibitive.
If any company in the world can do it, it’s Amazon, but one analyst says the expansion is by no means a slam dunk.
“AmazonGo already has no lines,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of NACS. “The key to success will be convenient locations. If it’s a quarter mile from where people are walking and biking, the novelty of the technology won’t matter. It’s too far away.”
Naturally, the company hasn’t commented on the reports.
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