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Jan 10, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Amazon Go: US giant’s check-out-free stores coming to airports

Customers in a hurry at the airports in San Jose, Los Angeles and Dallas Fort Worth will soon be able to test out the "Amazon Go" concept of a store where you can shop without having to go to the check-out and therefore without having to queue. Seven points of sale of this kind already exist in several US cities and the opening of 3,000 other stores has already been announced by the on-line sales giant, in what is an ambitious but highly controversial project.

 

Amazon is continuing its expansion into physical commerce, and after opening seven digital "Amazon Go" stores in the USA (three in Seattle, three in Chicago and one in San Francisco), the US giant is now looking to set up others in the main airports in the country, including San Jose, Los Angeles and Dallas Fort Worth. Two openings are already planned, one this winter and the other at some point in 2019, according to French trade website Tom Travel.

In these stores, customers will be able to help themselves without having to queue to go to the check-out once they have simply had their credit card details scanned in advance. In-store cameras will be able to identify which products have been purchased and the total amount of the shopping is then automatically debited once the customer passes through the security stands at the exit. This process will be incredibly fast and thus ideal for airports, and also represents a strategic choice for Amazon since 350 million passengers every year transit through the main 12 airports in the USA.

 

Amazon to open 3,000 stores over the coming years

 

The imminent opening of these airport-based "Amazon Go" stores is part of a huge expansion project on the part of the on-line sales giant, which has stated its intention to open no fewer than 3,000 physical stores over the coming years.

This check-out-free connected point of sale project, which was first announced back in 2016 and initially slated for early 2017, has not met with universal approval, however. Its critics point to a further step in the dehumanisation process and a threat to jobs, since an "Amazon Go" store can function with a staff of just six employees.

This is the case of the check-out-free mini-supermarket in Seattle – a store of 41 square metres which has ready-meals and snacks aimed at local office staff and which is serving as a miniature test bench before being rolled out into airports.

 

Amazon’s agile airport strategy

 

Other than the advantages of providing check-out-free stores to airport passengers in a hurry, the Amazon innovation is beginning to inspire supermarket retailers who are looking for new concepts. French brand Carrefour for example has announced its  intention to test payment via facial recognition in one of its points of sale next spring.

In time, with a growing number of stores in different types of environment, Amazon will be able to fully demonstration the efficiency of its innovative new technology, with the main aim being to sell it on, initially to major US retailers, and then to the rest of the world.

 

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