When Amazon opened its first prototype Amazon Go bricks-and-mortar groceries store in Seattle in January the writing was probably already on the wall. It was probably already on the wall when the company acquired the Whole Foods chain in a multi-billion-dollar deal last year. After a lull, the second, third and fourth Amazon Go locations have also now opened in quick succession, with the 2 more in Seattle locations and the fourth in Chicago.
The checkout-less, almost staff-less Go operations automate the groceries shopping process through an app that as scanned on entry and an array of the latest technology in the world from computer vision scanners and sensors empowered by AI.
This week’s rumour, first published by Bloomberg, and neither confirmed nor denied by Amazon, is that the wheels are about to be set in motion for 3000 new Amazon Go convenience stores to be opened across the USA by 2021. 3000 stores in less than three years. If the writing was not already on the wall that Amazon plans to do to 7-Eleven, Speedway and Casey’s what it did to bookshop chains like Barnes and Noble close to two decades ago now, it most certainly is now. Amazon Go is almost certainly the biggest threat these incumbents of the convenience store sector have ever faced.
It is thought the rumoured roll out of the $960 billion-dollar business’s new business will consist of another 6 new Amazon Go locations before the end of 2018, rising to 50 over the course of next year. If that goes to plan the following two years could see a massive logistics and management operation swinging into action to see a further 2900 stores opened over the next two years.
The technology put into the first prototype Amazon Go location is said to have cost around $1 million. That would mean 3000 stores costing around $3 billion on technology alone, though the presumption would be significant cost savings resulting from economies of scale. The company will also expect the initially high capital investment will pay for itself in ongoing staff cost savings.
Chief executive Jeff Bezos is a renowned advocate of automisation and humans not doing jobs the latest technology in the world of AI, robotics and other technology is able to do instead. While some fear the loss of jobs that AI and robotics technology will lead to over coming years, various analysis suggests that the development will add around $57 trillion to the global economy over the next decade. As long as that wealth generation is sensibly distributed the hope is that the end of menial jobs will prove to be a positive.