Amazon plans 3,000 high-tech shops

Amazon is considering a plan that would have the retail giant open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021, Bloomberg News reported.

If Amazon.com Inc. proceeds with a plan to open 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021, it could cost as much as $3 billion, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley, but also signal a bigger push by one of the world's largest companies into the grocery business.

Amazon opened its first Go branch, underneath its Seattle headquarters, at the start of this year. Since then, the company has opened two more Seattle sites and one in Chicago, and has confirmed plans for San Francisco and NY stores. United Kingdom -based Pret has 450 locations worldwide, including New York, Boston and Chicago, focusing on fresh, healthy grab-and-go foods.

Amazon Go is seen as a competitor to the already well-established chains of 7-Eleven convenience stores and Subway fast-food restaurants.

The checkout counter-free store relies on computer vision, machine learning algorithms and sensors to track what customers are taking off the shelves - or putting back on the shelves - and purchasing.

Amazon has been quite cautious in its roll-out of Amazon Go stores that replace the cashier with a smartphone app. Two of the new stores offer only a limited selection of salads, sandwiches and snacks, showing that Amazon is experimenting with the concept simply as a meal-on-the-run option. That would mark a dramatic expansion of Amazon's brick-and-mortar footprint, and could pose an immediate challenge to food sellers from convenience chains like 7-Eleven to large format grocers like Kroger.

Why it matters: While Amazon has ruled the e-tailer business for the past few years, physical stores represent a considerable investment which Jeff Bezos is willing to undertake for longer-term profitability.

The e-tail giant now has four Amazon Go stores: three in Seattle and one in Chicago, which opened on Monday.

Amazon Go is basically a dream come true for introverts. The first is on Amazon's campus in Seattle.

That many new stores could change people's expectations for convenience stores, forcing other retailers to adopt a cashier-less model.

"Amazon is fully aware that they have to be much bigger in consumables and that omnichannel is what's going to work in consumables".

You have to scan the Amazon Go app on your phone to enter the store.

The new chain would be a massive expansion of Amazon's retail efforts, which also include Whole Foods as well as bookstores and in-mall kiosks.

  • Eleanor Harrison