- Amazon is opening a new grocery store in California this year that would be separate from Whole Foods, the company confirmed in late 2019.
- The confirmation comes after The New York Times reported that Amazon is looking into creating a new grocery chain that would combine the aspects of online and traditional shopping.
- The new store opening next year will also be separate from Amazon Go, the company’s grab-and-go cashier-free convenience stores.
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Amazon is making an even bigger leap into the grocery business by opening a new supermarket later this year.
The tech giant confirmed such plans in late 2019 after CNET’s Ben Fox Rubin spotted a job listing for a management role at the store.
Details on Amazon’s ambitions in the grocery space are scarce. But the new store opening in the Woodland Hills area of California would be separate from Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired for $US13.7 billion in 2017.
The company also temporarily opened the store as an online-only shop for fulfilling grocery deliveries to expand its offerings in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic back in April.
Previous reports have shed light on Amazon’s plans to expand its presence in the grocery market beyond Whole Foods.
The New York Times’ Karen Weise reported in July 2019 that Amazon was brainstorming a new type of grocery store that would combine traditional shopping with online pickup. The Wall Street Journal also reported last year that Amazon was planning to open dozens of grocery stores in the United States, with the first store potentially opening in Los Angeles by the end of the year.
Here’s a look at what we know about Amazon’s grocery plans so far based on these reports.
The first store will launch this year, and others could soon follow.
Amazon’s first new grocery store will open this year in Woodland Hills, California, although it’s unclear precisely when it will debut. But it could be one of several grocery stores Amazon is planning to open.
The Journal reported in March 2019 that the company is planning to open dozens of stores in several cities in the United States, noting that the first store would open in Los Angeles.
The online retail giant has also reportedly signed leases for two separate locations, according to The Journal, and discussions are said to be in place for stores in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.
The new grocery store won’t be like Amazon Go, the company’s cashier-less convenience stores.
The new grocery story opening in Woodland Hills won’t be an Amazon Go location, which allows customers to purchase products through a smartphone app without having to pay at a checkout counter. This new store, rather, will have a conventional checkout experience.
But it will have smart shopping carts called Dash Carts that allow you to bypass the checkout line.
Amazon’s Woodland Hills grocery store will have smart shopping carts that can detect which items you place in the cart and automatically charge your Amazon account as you leave.
The cart won’t be able to handle heavy shopping trips, however, as Amazon says it’s suited for holding one or two bags of groceries.
Each cart will also have a touch screen for viewing your Alexa shopping list and your subtotal as you shop.
Amazon’s future grocery stores could combine in-store shopping with online ordering.
Amazon is considering building new grocery stores that would be centered on pickup and delivery, and would include a separate section where shoppers could pick out fresh groceries, according to The New York Times. The Journal also reported that Amazon’s grocery stores would have a big focus on customer service and pickup orders.
The Woodland Hills store will likely have some aspect of this vision, as it features a dedicated window near the entrance for order pickups and returns, according to Bloomberg, which obtained photos of the store and planning documents.
The Times report cites an Amazon memo circulated in early 2017, before it acquired Whole Foods, that outlines the company’s vision for upending the grocery-shopping experience. The memo described a concept for a store that would allow shoppers to order nonperishable items through an app as they roamed aisles to pick out fresh groceries.
These nonperishable items, which could include staples like paper towels and canned foods, would be brought down to the checkout area as the customer shops, and the supermarket would also have a designated area to pick up groceries ordered online.
A future Amazon grocery chain could be cheaper than Whole Foods.
One way Amazon may differentiate its own chain from Whole Foods is by offering a different selection of products at a lower price point, according to the Journal. But again, until Amazon reveals more details about its Woodland Hills store, it’s unclear how closely its plans will line up with the Journal’s report.
Amazon’s first store may be smaller than some large-format supermarkets.
Amazon’s Woodland Hills grocery store will be 33,000 square feet, according to Bloomberg, which the outlet described as being average size for a supermarket. The Journal’s report, however, positioned this as being smaller than the average grocery store, saying that the average supermarket measures 60,000 square feet.
A 2014 report from Money suggests that Amazon’s store is on the smaller end of the spectrum when it comes to grocery store sizes, which can fluctuate between 20,000 square feet and 60,000 square feet.
Amazon may also sell items other than food.
Amazon has expressed interest in selling heath and beauty items at its new chain in addition to groceries, according to the Journal. However, Amazon has not said anything further about the new grocery store opening in Woodland Hills next year.