Amazon is going ahead with an expansion of its cashier-free convenience store concept Amazon Go, according to a report from Recode.
Amazon plans to open as many as six additional locations of the store in its hometown of Seattle, as well as Los Angeles this year, according to the report that cites sources familiar with Amazon’s plans. Recode reports that Amazon eyed at least three different locations in Seattle. It is unclear if any other cities are part of a potential expansion plan.
An Amazon spokesperson told GeekWire that the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation.
Amazon debuted the store concept in December 2016. Amazon spent more than a year testing it internally and refining the “Just Walk Out” technology before opening the store in the ground floor of the Day One tower at 2121 Seventh Ave. in Seattle to the public last month.
Amazon says it has been developing the Amazon Go concept and the technology that powers it for a total of five years now.
After shoppers check in by scanning a unique QR code on the Amazon Go app, overhead cameras work with weight sensors in the shelves to precisely track which items they pick up and take with them. When customers leave, Amazon Go’s systems automatically debit their accounts for the items they take, sending the receipt to the app.
The company claims the tracking is precise enough to distinguish between multiple people standing side-by-side at a shelf, detecting which one picked up a yogurt or cupcake, for example, and which one was merely browsing. The system also knows when people pick up items and put them back, ensuring that Amazon doesn’t dock anyone’s account for milk or chips when they simply wanted to read the label.
Amazon Go is the online retail pioneer’s attempt to reinvent the physical store with the same mindset that brought one-click shopping to the internet. Eliminating the cashier in favor of tracking technology has implications for customers, from both a convenience and privacy perspective, and the economy as a whole, where millions of people are employed as cashiers.
Amazon has maintained that it has no plans to roll out Amazon Go technology at Whole Foods stores.
Amazon Go is part of a broader push by Amazon into physical retail, including its Amazon Books stores and AmazonFresh Pickup locations, in addition to the company’s massive bet on Whole Foods Market. Amazon has also been slowly blurring the lines between these businesses, adding integrations between Amazon and Whole Foods like rapid delivery.