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Bloomberg reports that Amazon "is preparing to open Amazon Go supermarkets and pop-up stores, an expansion of the company’s cashierless ambitions that includes the possibility of licensing the technology to other retailers."

The chain of the stores would be separate from both the company's Whole Foods chain and the new chain of supermarkets that it has confirmed that it will begin opening early next year (and which, it has said, will not have checkout-free technology).

From Bloomberg: "The new store formats and licensing initiative could launch as soon as the first quarter of 2020, according to a person familiar with the project. Amazon is testing a supermarket equipped with Go technology in a 10,400-square-foot retail space in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood."

While "customers have praised the Go stores as technical marvels," retail analysts "have wondered whether the low margins at a typical corner store chain would offset the costs of the Go technology, a complicated array of cameras and software that figures out what shoppers have grabbed and automatically charges them when they exit.

"The Go team, which recently folded previously separate hardware groups and engineering support staff into a new entity called Physical Retail Technologies, has spent the past two years streamlining the technology. The efforts were aimed at making the existing Amazon Go stores more profitable and the guts of the system cheap enough to entice other retailers, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal project … Now, having improved the technology, the company is getting closer to its original ambition. Amazon aims to support stores as large as 30,000 square feet, the size of a typical modern supermarket. At the Capitol Hill space in Seattle, engineers are stress-testing the camera arrays with large groups of people, the person said."
KC's View:
I have to be honest here … I have very little confidence that any of these stories are right. It seems to me entirely possible that the Amazon could be playing the old magician's trick of making you look at the right hand while the left hand is doing all the work and making the trick happen.

Here's what I'm pretty sure of. Amazon is going to open different kinds of stores. It will own some of them and license out technology to others. Some of the stores will work and some will not, because it isn't an experiment if you know it is going to work. Amazon will learn from all the experiences, and will be able to apply those learnings to expand its ecosystem. And the vast majority of what it does will reflect some sort of disruptive insight - maybe big, maybe small - that will create competitive challenges to everybody.