Amazon today announced three new Amazon Go stores that will open soon in Seattle and Chicago, bringing the total footprint for the cashier-less convenience store concept to 17 locations in four cities.
The new Seattle location is surprisingly not the much-discussed larger Amazon Go store under construction in the trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood. The latest Seattle store will be in a high-rise apartment complex at 1001 Minor Ave. in the nearby First Hill neighborhood, just east of downtown. When it opens it will be the fifth Seattle Amazon Go store.
The two new Chicago locations are in downtown office buildings at 130 E. Randolph St. and 222 W. Merchandise Plaza. Amazon has now announced or opened six stores in Chicago, more than any other market, including the company’s hometown of Seattle.
The stores are similar in size to other Amazon Go locations, but a little on the smaller side, ranging from 930 square feet to 1,425 square feet. The Seattle store is outside the norm because of its location in an apartment building, The Perry, rather than a downtown office tower.
Amazon did not give an opening date for any of the stores, listing each one as coming soon. In addition to the Seattle and Chicago stores, Amazon has announced or opened four stores in San Francisco and two in New York.
Since opening its first store to the public in January 2018, Amazon has announced or opened 16 stores in 17 months. At that pace the company won’t come close to the 3,000 stores it reportedly considered growing to by 2021.
The most recent opening came in May, when the company the opened its second New York store. It was the first to accept cash after critics called out Amazon for promoting a discriminatory practice with cashless retail.
Amazon Go customers scan a unique QR code within the app before passing through a set of glass doors, similar to the gates Amazon employees go through when entering their office buildings every morning. Once they’ve picked up their items, customers just leave the store without checking out and Amazon Go’s systems automatically debit their accounts for the items they take, sending the receipt to the app.
A recent report from Bloomberg dove into how Amazon ultimately arrived at the concept and technology behind the Go stores. According to the report, the company built a mock store in a 15,000-square-foot warehouse space in south Seattle it leased four years ago to test out the idea.
But when CEO Jeff Bezos toured the mock store, he noted several bottlenecks that defeated the intention to eliminate lines. The teams tinkered with the idea, got rid of meat and seafood counters that were creating holdups and shrunk the footprint down to the smaller stores we see today.
Bloomberg notes that while Amazon seems bullish on the concept, with more stores on the way, some of the locations are falling short of internal expectations. However, in the context of Amazon’s overall attempt to grab a bigger piece of the $12 trillion grocery market, the new stores are less like the company’s best effort to establish itself, per Bloomberg, and more an experiment that could shape the e-commerce giant’s future brick and mortar push.
The larger Amazon grocery store under construction in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has 10,400 square feet of space, according to recent permit filings. The storefront was initially supposed to be the first Amazon Go store until Amazon abandoned its initial plans as the space sat empty until work resumed earlier this year, Bloomberg reported. The company instead decided to put its first-ever Amazon Go store in the ground floor of one of its Seattle office towers.