Amazon is even getting into the convenience store arena with a brand-new store called Amazon Go. The pilot version of Amazon's grocery store looks just like a regular convenience store, but there are no lines, no checkout stations, and the menu is decidedly gourmet.
Amazon Go is a pretty wild concept. A person can only get into the store by scanning a QR code with an app, which lets the store know who you are and what credit card to charge for items. Once inside, a customer just picks up whatever they want. The store watches, and when a person leaves with something, the store charges the credit card and sends a receipt. You don't even have to scan anything.
It sounds a little freaky, but the first Amazon Go opened in 2016 in Amazon's corporate campus in Seattle, and it sounds like it's been working pretty well. This week, it finally opened to the public. Now anybody with an Amazon account and a smartphone can go in and shop for things like Mediterranean lamb sandwiches, fresh sandwiches and salads, and prepared fruits and vegetables.
It looks a lot like a big, enclosed version of the grab-and-go kiosks in airport terminals. According to Bloomberg, Amazon Go's inventory caters to "health-conscious, affluent millennials," which makes sense, considering that for the past year the Amazon Go focus group has been made up of Amazon employees in Seattle.
According to Amazon Go Technology Vice President Dillip Kumar, most of the feedback involved the store's selection. There's a huge selection of different kinds of salads, and the customers said they wanted the salad dressing on the side. Also, everything is clearly labeled if it's vegan or gluten-free.
Prepared foods are the centerpiece of the first Amazon Go, but it's also full of grocery store staples like peanut butter, eggs, milk, bread, and even beer and wine. The store even sells meal kits meant to be cooked at home, and it's full of Whole Foods' 365 products, too.
You don't have to talk to anyone at the store, but there are employees stocking the shelves and in the store's kitchen making salads and sandwiches. Another employee checks IDs in the beer and wine section.
This is the first Amazon Go open to the public, but the system sounds like it'd be great at crowded places like office buildings or college campuses. Just being able to take what you want without waiting in line to order or pay would make things much faster for everybody. It'll be interesting to see where this goes in the future.