Amazon_Go_exterior_Seattle.jpg
The first Amazon Go store opened in Seattle in January.

Amazon Go stores slated for Chicago, San Francisco

Checkout-free retail concept expands brick-and-mortar footprint

Amazon.com Inc. plans to open two more Amazon Go convenience stores, its cashier-free retail concept that debuted in Seattle earlier this year.

An Amazon spokeswoman on Tuesday confirmed that Amazon Go locations will be opened in Chicago and San Francisco. The company declined to give a timetable and details about the planned store openings.

The first Amazon Go store opened in January in Seattle. Occupying 1,800 square feet, the store carries mostly food and beverages, but nonfood items such as batteries and over-the-counter medicine also are available.

Food offerings include ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options made by the company’s chefs and local kitchens and bakeries. The grocery mix ranges from essentials such as bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates. Also offered are chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, which the company said enable consumers to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.

Powering Amazon Go’s checkout-free shopping experience is what Amazon calls its “Just Walk Out” technology. Overhead cameras, weight sensors and deep learning technology detect merchandise that shoppers take from or return to shelves and keep track of the items selected in a virtual cart.

Shoppers use the Amazon Go mobile app to gain entry to the store through a turnstile. When customers leave the store, the Just Walk Out technology automatically debits their Amazon account for the items they take (and credits the account for items picked up but put back on the shelf) and then sends a receipt to the app.

In a letter to shareholders last month, Amazon founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos said the Amazon Go shopping experience was described as “magical” by customers of the Seattle store.

“What makes the magic possible is a custom-built combination of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning, which come together to create Just Walk Out shopping,” he wrote in the letter. “With JWO, customers are able to grab their favorite breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and grocery essentials more conveniently than ever before.”

Top-selling items, he said, have included caffeinated beverages, water, a Chicken Banh Mi sandwich, chocolate chip cookies, cut fruit, gummy bears and Amazon Meal Kits.

Though Amazon isn’t commenting on expansion plans for Amazon Go, published reports have said the company may open as many as six of the stores this year, including additional locations in Seattle and possibly a unit in Los Angeles. 

Amazon Go builds on the e-tail giant’s current brick-and-mortar retail footprint, which includes Amazon Books stores and mall pop-up locations in 20 states and the District of Columbia as well as over 470 Whole Foods Market stores in 42 states, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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