Amazon could open 3,000 cashierless Go stores by 2021

Bloomberg

By rolling out 3,000 Amazon Go stores, Amazon would quickly become one of the biggest chains in the US, Bloomberg said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. At present, the two older locations have salads, sandwiches, snacks, and a small range of groceries; the newer ones don't offer groceries at present.

Amazon Go grew from a single convenience-store site to four over the span of eight months.

Shoppers scan the Amazon Go app on the mobile devices as they enter the Amazon Go store in Seattle, Washington. Amazon then bills shoppers' credit cards on file after they leave.

The challenge to Amazon's plan is the high cost of opening each location. Called Amazon Go, the store features what Amazon calls "just walk out" technology, using sensors and cameras to track what customers take off shelves and out of the store.

Amazon could reduce the cost of hardware and increase profit margins by focusing on selling prepared foods, instead of offering an expanded selection of grocery items.

News of the company's potential ambitions for AmazonGo sent shares of grocery and retail rivals lower. Walmart Inc. declined as much as 0.6 per cent, reversing an earlier gain, while Target Corp. dropped about 1.5 per cent and Kroger Co. slid as much as 3.1 per cent. Amazon rival Walmart operates 5,300 locations, and Kroger, the largest USA grocer by sales, runs 3,900 stores.

In December 2016, Amazon unveiled a convenience store in downtown Seattle that replaced cashiers with technology found in self-driving cars.

Those companies had already been on notice for more than a year after Amazon bought its way into brick-and-mortar groceries with the $13.5 billion acquisition of more than 470 Whole Foods Market stores.

Such an expansion could put Amazon back into an investment cycle. Bezos is willing to lose money on long-term initiatives when he smells opportunity. Amazon Web Services, the company's fast-growing and profitable cloud-computing business, was unprofitable for years and Bezos stuck with it, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Amazon Go is going national. The e-commerce giant may open as many as 3,000 such stores by 2021, according to the report. For reference, there are about 155,000 convenience stores across the country, and about 80 percent of those are combined with gas stations. Once we walked out, we received an email that we were charged for our items.

Bloomberg notes that with Amazon's focus on dense metro areas, those likely to be affected by the cashierless stores include businesses like Subway, Panera and Pret A Manger - restaurants that allow for quick eating or convenient takeaway.

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