Store Spotlight: Amazon Go Grocery
Once viewed simply as a wild experiment, Amazon’s “just walk out” shopping technology is now powering a full grocery store that the company opened in February at 610 E. Pike Street in its hometown of Seattle.
As the name suggests, Amazon Go Grocery shares many characteristics with the Amazon Go convenience stores that first brought the company’s frictionless payment platform to U.S. shoppers, including mobile code entry, thousands of overhead cameras and, of course, cashier-less checkout itself. The main difference is that the much larger, 10,700-square-foot Go Grocery store adds a produce department as well as expanded frozen, meat and dairy departments, giving urban grocery shoppers a one-stop, contact-less payment destination for their grocery trips.
Shoppers log in to their Amazon account via the Amazon Go mobile application and request entry by scanning the code displayed on their smartphone. Immediately beyond the entry gates, small upright carts designed for the L-shaped store’s relatively narrow aisles are corralled alongside reusable shopping bags labeled as “free.” Printed and digital signs invite shoppers to “Grab a cart” and “Bag as you shop.”
- Throughout the store, additional digital signs communicate messages such as the price of avocados. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some have been repurposed to request shoppers practice social distancing by staying six feet apart. Other types of promotional signage are virtually non-existent. Similarly, the store eschews any temporary merchandising units.
- The store sources a number of its items, including entire gondolas of organic produce (priced individually as there is no weighing of merchandise) as well as meat, artisanal cheese and other fresh food, from Whole Foods suppliers. However, rather than competing with Amazon’s Whole Foods chain, the company hopes Amazon Go Grocery will add value and further expand its brick-and-mortar footprint with its mix of products, price and convenience.
- With cart in hand, shoppers face a bakery wall topped by a directional mural that sends them to the left (for snacks; meals made easy; sushi, pasta, pizza, salad, sides) or right (for dairy, meat & seafood, deli), depending on their shopping intent. There is also a separate area for wine, beer and spirits that requires shoppers to show their ID to gain entry.
- The breadth of categories within the store is comparable to a typical suburban supermarket, but the highly curated assortment favors smaller pack sizes. There are even shelves dedicated to single-pack free samples with instructions to “grab one of each” – although they sat empty during our visit. Local companies are a big part of the mix, as are both private label 365 Whole Foods Market products and those from major brands such as the flagships of Kellogg Co. and Coca-Cola Co.
- On their way out, shoppers pass by a self-serve Starbucks coffee station – temporarily closed due to COVID-19 – and a selection of impulse items that includes a co-branded chocolate bar with local high-end chocolatier Theo. Both are part of a staging area that includes counter space for shoppers who need to organize their groceries as well as a parking validation machine for the store’s spaces, which are free for one hour. Amazon has not said if, where or when it might open more Amazon Go Grocery locations.