Amazon has been making a Go of its cashier-less convenience stores for nearly a year, since opening its first location to the public in Seattle on Jan. 22. Tuesday the tech giant opens its ninth Amazon Go store, and second in San Francisco, and the official company line is that customers love the experience and the company loves its technology.
The opening of the new store, at 1,750 square feet, comes just a week after Amazon unveiled another location in Seattle that was much more compact, at just 450 square feet.
No matter the size or the city, Dilip Kumar, the VP of technology for Amazon Go, said the company is thrilled with what it’s seen so far.
“People are finding it incredibly comfortable to shop the store,” Kumar told GeekWire. “We noticed this in every city … there’s this tentative hesitation when customers are about to leave, because they think, ‘Can you really leave? Are we really done?’ It turns out that they can and then they just walk out. Then they go out and tell people the experience that they had and then more people come in.”
With three more stores in Chicago and another slated to open in 2019, Kumar said customer behavior is consistent across locations.
“Customers are busy, they’re in a rush, they want good food, they want to be in and out really quickly,” he said. “Our hypothesis when we launched Amazon Go is that those things would be universal and it’s turning out to be the case.”
While existing stores range in size, from the new compact option on up to 2,300 square feet, Kumar said that fact is tied more to available real estate space and the feel of the surrounding neighborhood than it is any grand plan. Amazon’s so-called Just Walk Out Technology — relying on a smartphone app, multiple overhead cameras and weight sensors in the shelves — functions the same no matter the store size.
And while the compact option opens up the possibility of locating in more office buildings and lobbies and so forth, Kumar wasn’t willing to speculate on where and how the company will steer Amazon Go growth in the new year and beyond.
He did say that while customers in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago have gotten used to the concept, the technology continues to improve.
“Machine learning technologies — and Just Walk Out is no exception in that regard — tend to get a lot better with more data and over time. The algorithm’s been designed to improve,” Kumar said. “The good news is that what we’re seeing, even though there’s new selection and new customer behavior, the technology is performing flawlessly. The algorithms keep improving over time as we get more data. By and large what we’ve seen, from our first Seattle store to the last one, we’ve seen a lot of similarities in the performance of Just Walk Out Technology and we’re thrilled about that.”
Amazon Go’s new San Francisco location is located at 98 Post St. and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Along with Amazon-made items, the store will stock local favorites such as Urban Remedy, dosa by Dosa, Munchery, Green Heart Foods, La Boulangerie, Kikka Sushi, Starter Bakery and Clara’s Kitchen.