The first Amazon Go location, at Day 1 in Seattle, Washington, US
|Founded||December 5, 2016|
Number of locations
Amazon Go is a chain of convenience stores in the United States operated by the online retailer Amazon, with four locations each in Seattle and Chicago, and two in San Francisco, and a single one in New York as of May 2019[update]. The stores are partly automated, with customers able to purchase products without being checked out by a cashier or using a self-checkout station. The first store, located in the company's Day 1 building, opened to employees on December 5, 2016, and to the public on January 22, 2018. The flagship store has prepared foods, meal kits, limited groceries, and liquor available for purchase.
Technology and implementation
According to a promotional video published by Amazon, the store concept uses several technologies, including computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion to automate much of the purchase, checkout, and payment steps associated with a retail transaction. The store concept is seen as a revolutionary model that relies on the prevalence of smartphones and geofencing technology to streamline the customer experience, as well as supply chain and inventory management. However, public roll-out of the Seattle Amazon Go prototype location was delayed due to issues with the sensors' ability to track multiple users or objects within the store, such as when children move items to other shelves or when more than one customer has a similar body habitus.
Customers must download the Amazon Go app for iOS and Android, which is linked to their Amazon account, before shopping at the store. The app allows users to add others to their Amazon account, so kids and a spouse's purchases can be charged to the same bill. The ceiling of the store has multiple cameras and store shelves have weight sensors, to detect which item(s) a customer took. If a customer takes an item off the shelf, it will be added to the person's virtual cart. If a customer places an item back on the shelf, it is also removed from the customer's virtual cart.
In its report on the opening, The Wall Street Journal reported that this first location was one of at least three that Amazon planned to open, each of which was in a different format. In October 2016, the Business Insider reported they had seen internal Amazon documents that described Amazon opening up as many as 2,000 stores, over the next ten years. Amazon spokesmen refuted the reports of 2,000 stores, insisting they were still learning. The Business Insider predicted that Amazon was likely to open only twenty or so stores, during the next two years.
The Verge reported this first store was scheduled to open to the public in early January 2017; its December 2016 opening was a beta version for Amazon employees only. The first store was only 1,800 square feet (170 m2), the size of a corner convenience store. By October 2017, the store had yet to open due to issues with the technology tracking over 20 people at one time.
The store opened to the public on January 22, 2018. In addition to stocking name brands and local brands, the store sells many of Amazon's house brands, such as Wickedly Prime and 365. Food stamps and public assistance for low income persons are not accepted, nor are customers without smartphones, or with smartphones that do not have the Amazon Go app downloaded. A second Downtown Seattle location at the Madison Centre opened on August 27, 2018. The third Amazon Go store, at the Troy Block complex in South Lake Union, is the largest at 2,100 square feet (200 m2) and opened in September 2018.
In May 2018, The Seattle Times reported that Amazon was planning to open Amazon Go stores in Chicago and San Francisco; and in September, a store planned for New York City was confirmed. In September 2018, Amazon Go opened its first location outside of Seattle at the company's offices in the Chicago Loop. Amazon Go location number 9 was opened on October 23, 2018 at 98 Post Street in San Francisco.
In response to potential discrimination against low-income people, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New Jersey have passed legislation banning cash-less stores and retailers. A new Amazon Go store in New York City opened on May 6, 2019, with cash acceptance in response to previous criticism over the use of app-only purchases and its effects on the poor.
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