Amazon's new grocery store has few groceries

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
Gina Acosta profile picture

Amazon has opened its first cashier-less grocery store, but the store seems to be stocked mostly with prepared foods.

The store, called Amazon Go, may as well be called Amazon Grab and Go because of the grab-and-go assortment.

At 1,800 square feet, the new Amazon Go store offers a large assortment of ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made by chefs and local kitchens and bakeries. For a quick home-cooked dinner, chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits adorn a wall. Grocery essentials such as bread and milk and cheeses are seemingly sparse.

“We've been hearing about the 'future of retail' for years, but it’s now here. The future has arrived and the shift is going to be focused around convenience, simplicity and enjoyability. These factors build brand loyalty to keep customers coming back again and again. The future is about using technology to craft remarkable brand experiences. Amazon Go's use of mobile technology to respond to the demands of consumers will set the tone for other retailers to follow," said Casey Gannon, VP of Marketing, Shopgate.

The store is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located at 2131 7th Ave, Seattle, Wash., near the corner of 7th and Blanchard.

The store first opened in beta mode to Amazon employees in December 2016 and the company spent a year testing the no-checkout technology.

The store uses hundreds of ceiling-mounted cameras and electronic sensors to identify each customer and track what items they select. Purchases are billed to customers' credit cards when they leave the store. Amazon calls it "Just Walk Out" technology and it uses computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion — many of the same advances being used to develop autonomous driving.

A video of how the store looks and operates is here.

For now, Amazon is testing the concept on a limited basis and says it has no plans to implement the technology in Whole Foods stores. 

“For those following Amazon, advantages of early adoption exist. If consumers perceive that a retailer offers better convenience and speed, they will choose to shop there, and they’ll stay loyal because the feeling of customer-centricity and experience is strong. With Amazon Go, however, the fast followers will discover that their own stores, products and in-store processes ultimately get in the way of copying the new hyped model. From the technology investment to the type of products being sold, to managing the relationship with consumers, most retailers have a long way to go before their processes and infrastructure will allow them to copy what Amazon is doing. But like mobile checkout at the Apple Store, fundamental elements of Amazon Go’s model – a disruption in checkout process broadly – will creep into the retail segments that it matches most closely, as retailers step up to compete directly for market share (and media buzz),” said Michael Jasczyzk, CEO, GK Software USA.