Amazon opened its first cashierless store in New York, but customers can still pay in cash after a backlash

Getty/Stephen BrashearAmazon Go.
  • Amazon opened its first cashierless store, Amazon Go, in New York on Tuesday.
  • This is also the first Amazon Go store that will also allow customers to pay in cash.
  • The retailer faced backlash for its entirely cash-free stores, which critics said discriminated against customers who don’t have a bank account.

Amazon Go opened its doors to New York shoppers for the first time on Tuesday. And just like its 11 other locations across the US, this checkout free, (supposedly) line-free store promises to provide a speedy shopping experience that caters nicely to a busy New Yorker’s schedule.

But there’s one major difference at this location: shoppers will also be able to pay in cash – exactly the opposite to what Amazon set out to do with these stores.

Bringing back cash

The decision to bring cash payments to these cash free stores came after the company faced backlash from critics who said Amazon Go discriminated against customers who don’t have bank accounts. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 8.4 million households, or roughly 6.5% of all households in America, were “unbanked” in 2017.

Because of this, some states and cities have also considered banning cashless stores. Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and New Jersey require stores to accept cash payment, and New York City and San Francisco are considering similar measures.

In April, Amazon told CNBC that it would be looking to add “additional payment mechanisms” to its stores in the future. A spokesperson later confirmed to Business Insider that this would include cash.


Read more:
Amazon plans to start accepting cash at Amazon Go stores after reported accusations of ‘discrimination and elitism’ and new laws banning cashless stores

In the past, customers have only been able to enter an Amazon Go store by scanning the app, which is linked to a credit card or an Amazon account. But at the New York location, an Amazon employee will swipe in customers who want to pay by cash, and scan any items with a mobile device to check them out.

The customer will be able to shop the store and then go to the checkout cart to pay with cash and get a receipt before leaving with their purchased items, a spokesperson for Amazon told Business Insider. There will still be no cash registers at the store, however.

The new store will offer a mix of ready-to-eat meals and snacks, which are made by Amazon and local kitchens and bakeries including Dominique Ansel, Magnolia Bakery, and Hale & Hearty. Customers will also be able to pick up Amazon’s Meal Kits.

This the 12th Amazon Go store to open and the first of its kind in New York.

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