WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Amazon is reportedly planning to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021.
- The grab-and-go convenience store works with its own app and allows customers to shop without the hassle of long checkout lines.
- The sheer number of stores could force other retailers to adopt the cashier-less model and shift the company’s focus on physical stores.
Amazon’s cashier-free stores may be everywhere within three years, as the e-commerce giant is considering plans to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021, according to Bloomberg.
The convenience stores, which work with its own app, allow customers to shop without having to wait in checkout lines. A customer would scan the Amazon Go app to enter the store, pick out some items – which the cameras will track – and then simply walk out. The bill is then paid automatically through the app.
The first Amazon Go stores were opened earlier this year, followed by another last month. Two new Amazon Go locations opened in Seattle and Chicago earlier this month, and a New York location is also reportedly planned.
Going from just four locations to 3,000 in a few years is a huge leap, and would make Amazon a leading convenience store operator, rivaling 7-Eleven, Walgreens, and CVS. And after agreeing in June to buy PillPack, an online drugstore, Amazon could also become a bigger player in the pharmacy business.
The sheer number of stores could change people’s expectations of convenience stores and force other retailers to adopt the cashier-less model.
Focusing more on physical stores would also be a turnaround for Amazon, especially when it helped popularize online shopping and is mostly blamed for the closure of hundreds of retail stores throughout America.
Rumors of Amazon’s massive expansion into physical stores have already been speculated in late 2016 when stories spread about Amazon’s supposed plans to build 2,000 grocery stores. While Amazon issued a rare denial of the rumor, the company agreed to buy Whole Foods about a year later, which had fewer than 500 locations.
Retail experts also pointed out the huge amount of money and time needed to site, develop, and staff thousands of new locations, making it unlikely that Amazon could open that many stores in just a few years.
As a reference, Walgreens, which has about 8,100 US locations, was founded way back in 1901.
Amazon Books, the company’s physical bookstores, is also expected to continue expansion. Amazon is now up to 16 locations, while two more are planned. Its first location was opened in 2016.