Amazon’s Supposed Automated Grocery Store Will Have as Little as 3 Human Employees

published Feb 9, 2017
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Online shopping platform Amazon is working on its first physical convenience store and, according to reports, an automated grocery store could be next. The New York Post reports Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has toyed with the idea of a two-story grocery store equipped with a staff of robots and as little as three human staff members.

Anonymous sources tell The Post that the grocery market — which is reportedly in very early stages and has not received approval of any kind — would be anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet and would retail upwards of 4,000 items that shoppers generally prefer to touch. This includes an array of foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, beer, and wine. Shoppers would peruse these goods on the first floor, and robots on the second floor will grab and bag the items.

As for the non-robotic workers, Amazon will reportedly have a cap of 10 human employees during a given shift and can have as few as three. “Amazon will utilize technology to minimize labor,” a source tells The Post.

Since most of the labor will be done by robots, human employees will resort to other functions like restocking shelves, signing consumers up for the “Amazon Fresh” grocery service, or even handling the hypothetical “drive-thru” window option for customers that will allow them to pick up their groceries as effortlessly as they grab a fast food meal.

A setup like this will likely increase revenue, as it cut costs on many levels: it requires less space so Amazon has to put out less money towards real estate, no cashiers are required, and there are lower operating costs. Cost will be so low that The Post reports operating profit margins of 20 percent.

But ask Amazon and they’ll say an automated grocery store is not in the works. “As we’ve said previously, it’s not correct,” an Amazon spokesman tells The Post. “We have no plans to build such a store.”

Bezos has also taken to Twitter to dismiss the reports, saying the sources have “mixed up their meds” and also calling on those who know “how to get 20 percent margins in groceries” to give him a call.

Amazon might not have any official plans for a physical automated grocery store, but it does have a brick-and-mortar convenience store, called “Amazon Go,” in the works. Their vision for these stores entails customers picking up what they need without having to go through a checkout line — their Amazon accounts would get billed.