How large can we go? This could be the question that Amazon is trying to answer for its Amazon Go cashierless checkout concept. As the following Wall Street Journal article reports, the retail giant is said to be testing for larger footprint retailers beyond the existing C-store size Amazon Go stores.
Amazon.com Inc. is testing its cashierless checkout technology for bigger stores, according to people familiar with the matter. If successful, the strategy would further challenge brick-and-mortar retailers racing to make their businesses more convenient.
The online retail giant is experimenting with the technology in Seattle in a larger space formatted like a big store, the people said. The systems track what shoppers pick from shelves and charges them automatically when they leave a store. Although the technology functions well in its current small-store format, it is harder to use it in bigger spaces with higher ceilings and more products, one of the people said, meaning it could take time to roll out the systems at larger stores.
It is unclear whether Amazon intends to use the technology for Whole Foods, although that is the most likely application if executives can make it work, according to the people. Amazon has previously said it has no plans to add the technology to Whole Foods.
When Amazon tests or does something, everyone takes notice. We are seeing that happen again as it is testing its Amazon Go system in bigger stores. Key challenges are that increased store size adds to complexity due to the quantity of product items as well as the number of people moving around. Plus cashierless stores, specifically grocers, would find the produce department not conducive to Amazon Go style pick and pay. With enough time and money, which Amazon has, this is probably doable. But will the average big box retailer be able to invest in this expensive technology over many stores? Our feeling is that Amazon Go could work well in limited, zoned-off areas in bigger stores. Which is why we still think that Whole Foods would be a prime grocer to feature an Amazon Go store within a store. Stay tuned.