Amazon reportedly plans to open 3,000 cashier-less stores by 2021

Lloyd Doyle
September 20, 2018

The first AmazonGo store in downtown Seattle-which opened to the public back in January-reportedly cost over $1 million in hardware alone, says an unnamed source speaking with Bloomberg. The cashierless shops allow customers to load up on snacks and walk out without the hassle of standing in line as the store sends a bill later.While Seattle and Chicago are already living the dream, Amazon is now considering a plan to open upwards of 3,000 cashierless stores over the course of the next few years, according to AdAge. The company is now considering narrowing its focus even further to freshly prepared foods that would appeal to lunch-time crowds - something that one of Bloomberg's sources likened to the United Kingdom chain Pret a Manger. AmazonGo is the most distinctive of all of its physical stores.

Amazon wants to have at least 10 stores open by the end of this year, then 50 in 2019, then possibly a rapid expansion to about 3,000 by 2021, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Amazon opened its first cashierless store in Seattle two years ago (pictured) and has launched two additional locations in Seattle and another in Chicago. Focusing on prepared foods rather than groceries could help boost profit margins, and some of the existing stores are already doing that.

Amazon is targeting dense urban areas with lots of young, busy, affluent residents willing to spend a little more than a typical fast-food experience for better quality food, the people said. That never happened and Amazon issued a rare denial of the rumor.

To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile.

Ready-to-eat lunch items greet shoppers when they enter. The small-format stores - the largest so far is 2,100 square feet - carry a mix of prepared and packaged food, soft drinks and make-at-home meal kits.

An Amazon employee checks IDs in the store's wine and beer section. Narrowing the focus to prepared food-to-go would reduce the upfront cost of opening each store, because it would require fewer cameras and sensors.

Such an expansion could put Amazon back into an investment cycle. Once we walked out, we received an email that we were charged for our items.

Much of the store will feel familiar to shoppers, aside from the check-out process.

The move comes as another corner of Amazon's vast empire is set to expand.

Research firm eMarketer predicts that Amazon will control more than 4 percent of the United States digital advertising market by the end of this year.

Google is set to claim 37 percent of the market, while Facebook will corner 20.5 percent of the United States digital ad market.

What's more, Amazon has grown its advertising business 242 percent since 2017, eMarketer said.

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