Amazon’s futuristic concept for a convenience store has come to San Francisco.
On Tuesday, the online retailer opened its newest Amazon Go, a cashierless store that sells sandwiches, chips and drinks, at 300 California Street. With the help of an array of cameras, the store lets customers check in at a turnstile, pick up what they want and leave without having to stop at a register.
The store is Amazon’s sixth Amazon Go that’s now open to the public, with three in Seattle and two in Chicago. The company plans to open two more locations in Chicago and one more in San Francisco. Another location is expected to arrive in New York City, too.
Though Amazon got rid of cashiers at Amazon Go stores, it says it still employs about as many people as a regular convenience store. The company says it’s able to redeploy workers to do other things, like stocking shelves, cleaning, and preparing foods.
Amazon Go is just one of a handful of Amazon’s new store concepts, which include the Amazon 4-Star store in Manhattan, Amazon Books bookstores, college drop-off locations and mall kiosks. Amazon also operates about 460 Whole Foods grocery stores. The company appears to be testing out all these different store ideas in a bid to draw more money and customers into its growing retail empire. Amazon already has a big lead in online commerce in the US, but it’s a tiny player in physical retail, where about 90 percent of sales still happen.
There’s a possibility that Amazon is just getting started with its grab-and-go convenience stores, with Bloomberg reporting last month that the company is planning to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go locations by 2021. Locating, building and staffing that many stores in just a few years is a hugely difficult undertaking, even for one of the world’s biggest companies. For instance, Walgreens has about 8,100 US locations and was founded in 1901.
But for now, if you live in San Francisco (and have an Amazon account), you can patronize Amazon’s sixth Go location.