Amazon is opening two more cashierless stores in Chicago. 3,000 by 2020? We’ll see

A woman shopping at the new Amazon Go store on the 100 block of South Franklin Street in Chicago. — Chicago Tribune/TNS

A woman shopping at the new Amazon Go store on the 100 block of South Franklin Street in Chicago. — Chicago Tribune/TNS

Amazon is opening two more of its cashierless convenience stores in Chicago – including one this week. 

Amazon Go, which sells grab-and-go food items in a store designed to let busy shoppers skip the checkout line, opened its first Chicago location in the Loop last month. It was the Seattle company's fourth Amazon Go store and the first outside its hometown. 

A second Chicago location was scheduled to open Oct 8 at 144 S. Clark St. The 1,200-square-foot store will be open from 6am to 9pm on weekdays. A third Chicago store will open soon in a 1,700-square-foot space in 500 W. Madison St., which is connected to Ogilvie Transportation Centre, said Dilip Kumar, vice president of technology for Amazon Go and Amazon Books. 

The Ogilvie location, with plenty of commuters passing by, “plays to the strengths of what the store is really good at, which is delivering good food fast in a convenient way”, he said. 

While the new stores will be smaller than Chicago's first, which is 2,000-square-feet, all will have a similar selection of pre-made sandwiches, salads and snacks and packaged convenience store items, Kumar said. 

To shop at Amazon Go, customers must scan an app on their smartphone as they enter. As a shoppers take items off shelves, cameras and other sensors track them and add the purchases to a virtual cart linked to their accounts. 

Amazon, which calls the experience “just walk out shopping”, automatically charges the shoppers' accounts when they leave the store. 

Kumar said Amazon has been getting positive feedback from customers since opening the first Chicago location last month. Beverages and meal kits have been popular, and customers seem to like the products from local vendors, he said. 

Last month, Bloomberg News reported the company is considering a plan to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores in the next few years. The Tribune previously reported plans for the Ogilvie location, along with another store planned for Willis Tower. 

Kumar declined to comment on expansion plans beyond saying the company intends to open Amazon Go stores in New York and San Francisco. 

"We're very intentionally focused on the ones that are open and learning from that experience,” Kumar said. 

Critics have speculated Amazon Go's checkout-free technology is an attempt to reduce labour costs by running stores with fewer workers. Earlier this week, Amazon said it would boost its minimum wage to US$15 (RM62) an hour for all US workers, though Bloomberg reported hourly workers would see some cuts to monthly bonuses and stock options. 

Kumar declined to comment on how the minimum wage bump would affect Amazon Go employees' compensation. Amazon has said eliminating checkout was about getting rid of the need to wait in line, not getting rid of workers. – Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service

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