Amazon.com is preparing to open Amazon Go supermarkets and pop-up stores, an expansion of the company’s cashierless ambitions that include the possibility of licensing the technology to other retailers.
The new store format and licensing initiative could launch as soon as the first quarter of 2020, according to a person familiar with the project, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal project.
Amazon is testing a supermarket equipped with Amazon Go technology in a 10,400-square-foot retail space in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The Go expansion is the e-commerce giant’s latest attempt to compete in the $900 billion U.S. grocery industry and perhaps other areas of retail, as well. The company already operates the Whole Foods Market chain and last week confirmed plans to launch a separate supermarket brand, starting with a location in the upscale Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The plans are for those stores to have human cashiers.
Amazon opened the first Go convenience store at its Seattle headquarters almost two years ago and now operates 21 Go convenience locations around the U.S. It’s not clear how much money the company has lavished on the project, but some of the 1,000 or so people working on it were recently told their cumulative salaries have totaled more than $1 billion since the project got underway in 2012, the source said.
The Go technology is a complicated array of cameras and software that figures out what shoppers have grabbed and automatically charges them when they exit. The Go team has spent the past two years streamlining the technology. The efforts have been aimed at making the existing Amazon Go convenience stores more profitable and making the guts of the system cheap enough to entice other retailers, said the source. Newer versions of Go’s hardware feature fewer backroom servers and more efficient cameras, software and networking capabilities, substantially cutting the cost of setting up a new store, the source said.
Amazon declined to comment.