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Amazon’s expansion into brick-and-mortar shows no sign of slowing down. The retailer today opened the doors at its second Amazon Go convenience store in Seattle, located in downtown Seattle at the corner of 5th and Marion. And like the first, it’s cashierless — shoppers can check out without the need to scan the items in their baskets.
The new Amazon Go offers largely the same experience as the original. Customers download the Amazon Go app on their smartphones, scan a code at the turnstiles near the entrance, and browse for goods as hundreds of ceiling-mounted cameras and pressure sensors keep a running tab of what they’ve grabbed. After they finish by scanning their code once again, the system automatically charges the payment method associated with their account. And if there’s a problem with an item, they can request a refund through the Go app.
The store’s a bit smaller than the first location (1,800 square feet) at 1,450 square feet. Another key difference? It doesn’t stock alcohol or staple groceries like bread and milk. And because there’s no room for an on-premises kitchen, fresh food like salads, sandwiches, wraps, and meal kits are delivered by local suppliers and bakeries and Amazon’s kitchen facility in Seattle.
There is, however, plenty of Amazon swag on tap, including Amazon Go-branded water bottles, mugs, and t-shirts.
Gianna Puerini, vice president at Amazon, told the Seattle Times that it’s intended to cater to a “different” population than the first store — namely office workers in search of nonperishables like gum, chips, candy, chocolates, oatmeal packs, and drinks. Partly for that reason, it’ll only be open on weekdays, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Amazon’s second Go store is the first in a wave to come. The Seattle company confirmed earlier this year that additional stores are in the works, and in May it posted job listings for Chicago and San Francisco. Meanwhile, Recode reports that the company plans to open as many as six Amazon Go locations by the end of 2018.
The stores’ technology has bolstered startups looking to bring a comparable experience to existing brick-and-mortar chains. (Even Microsoft is said to be developing an Amazon Go competitor, Reuters reported in June.) Trigo Vision, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based computer vision startup made up of former Google, Amazon, and Apple employees, tracks customers’ purchases with RGB cameras in stores up to 1,800 square feet in size. Standard Cognition’s platform uses powerful security cameras to do the same, while Inokyo and Zippin, both of which opened retail locations in California this month, rely on a combination of cameras and weight sensors to tally up totals.
Amazon Go is just a part of Amazon’s broader retail strategy. It acquired grocery chain Whole Foods in June for $13.7 billion, which it has tightly integrated with its Amazon Prime membership program and same-day Prime Now delivery service, and operates bookstores in Washington, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Massachusetts. And in August, reports emerged that Amazon is weighing the purchase of movie theater chain Landmark.
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