Amazon plans to open a new grocery chain separate from Whole Foods later this year, with dozens of locations in major U.S. cities, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The stores would be distinct from the company's Whole Foods grocery outlets and cashier-less Amazon Go stores. Apparently, the report claims, Amazon wants to take on the traditional grocery market where companies such as Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, and Walmart reign.
How Will Amazon Do This?
The report suggests Amazon will acquire around a dozen or so smaller-scale grocery chains. Whether these new outposts would carry the Amazon name or be called an entirely different brand remains to be seen.
The company has already signed leases for locations in Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, places where Whole Foods and Amazon Go stores can also be found. To better distinguish the new store from its siblings, it would reportedly carry grocery items customers can't get from Whole Foods.
Cashier-Less Amazon Go Stores
The question is whether the new store would use Amazon's cashier-less technology, in which a person enters the store, picks up their items, and simply walks out the door when they're done, with their purchases automatically billed on the shopper's Amazon account later. Since the report suggests Amazon plans to heavily invest in customer service and pick-up options to compete with coevals, going cashier-less seems out of the question.
In any case, the move furthers Amazon's effort to penetrate not just the grocery market as a whole, but more specifically the brick-and-mortar space. Walmart, Target, and similar stores have plenty of reason to watch out Amazon's progression in this landscape lest it ends up being outpunched eventually. At the moment, Amazon's physical grocery business doesn't hold a candle to those chains, but it stands to evolve given the right moves. Amazon already has the online ecommerce business on lock, and now it likely wants to conquer the physical shopping, as well.
The plans come as the company continues to roll out its cashier-less Go stores in more locations, too. At present, there are store only in Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, but the company has plans to enter more cities in the years to come. While the new stores likely won't be equipped with cashier-less technology, they'll still give Amazon an opportunity to test it out should it want to.
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