- Amazon has huge plans to expand its Fresh grocery business.
- That includes a bigger physical-store network and many new projects, such as a smart refrigerator.
- But Fresh employees say there’s a “toxic” work culture, as well as a “burnout” environment.
Amazon has for years tried to make inroads to the highly competitive grocery market, primarily through its Fresh delivery service.
Those efforts took a serious turn in 2017 when Amazon bought Whole Foods for $US13.7 ($AU18) billion. In recent years, Amazon also launched its own Fresh-branded physical grocery stores and expanded delivery offerings for its Prime members.
Still, many questions remain on where the business is headed and how Amazon plans to attack the multitrillion-dollar grocery market.
Here’s a rundown of the latest news about Amazon’s grocery business that covers its Fresh delivery team, brick-and-mortar stores, and initiatives, like partnership ideas and secret hardware projects.
Amazon has big plans for its Fresh grocery stores
Amazon opened its first Fresh brick-and-mortar grocery store last year. A year later, it launched a Fresh store with the cashierless “Just Walk Out” technology.
And that’s just the start of a very ambitious plan to launch hundreds of Fresh cashierless stores in the US, according to internal documents obtained by Insider. Last year, Amazon projected it would open 580 Fresh cashierless stores in the country by 2023, though it appears the company is already falling behind schedule.
One important factor to the expansion plan is the declining cost of the “Just Walk Out” technology. Amazon expects those expenses to drop by almost 75% between 2020 and 2023, according to one of the internal documents reviewed by Insider.
- Leaked documents detail Amazon’s aggressive plan to make its cashierless Fresh grocery stores profitable
- Amazon’s ambitious grocery plans may be in jeopardy, leaked documents reveal
- I went to the first Amazon Fresh store in the UK and felt like a shoplifter. Take a look inside.
Amazon Fresh employees are growing frustrated
As Amazon’s expectations grow for its grocery business, employees are feeling the strain.
In February, an Amazon grocery executive had to address concerns of a “toxic” culture and “burnout” at work. In August, employees raised similar worries during an internal all-hands meeting, saying that the grocery service was “subpar” and that the company had a “bureaucratic” culture.
Fresh employees also raised concerns about the company’s opaque performance-review system and the increased number of executive departures in recent years. Amazon’s grocery vice president, Stephenie Landry, played that down, calling reports about some of those issues “fake news.”
- Leaked email shows Amazon’s chief merchant addressing complaints about ‘toxic’ culture and ‘burnout’ challenges in the company’s Fresh grocery team
- Amazon employees blast the company’s grocery service as ‘subpar’ and call out ‘bureaucratic’ culture in heated all-hands meeting
- In a leaked recording, Amazon’s grocery VP tells employees that recent media coverage of the company’s performance-review system is ‘fake news’
- Amazon loses another VP, who served as Jeff Bezos’ last ‘shadow’ advisor, as executive exodus continues
Amazon has new ideas for its grocery business
The Fresh team is coming up with a bunch of new ideas to expand its business.
One of the more creative ideas is to use some of the computer-vision technology found in its cashierless stores in a new smart refrigerator. The appliance would be able to automatically detect low-stock items and make purchase recommendations.
Amazon is also working on a type of point-of-sales system that could be sold to other retailers. It wants to take some of the features found in its stores and link them to other Amazon services, like the Prime membership, Flex delivery, and the One palm-payment system.
Another idea Amazon has is to partner with other retailers to build its Amazon Go stores within an existing venue. For example, it held discussions with Starbucks about launching a new lounge-type coffee shop that has a separate section for its Amazon Go cashierless store.
- Exclusive: Amazon is working on a smart refrigerator that can monitor your buying patterns and suggest new products or recipes
- Exclusive: Amazon is working on a new point-of-sale system to lure merchants from Shopify, Square, and PayPal
- Exclusive: Amazon and Starbucks held talks about launching a cobranded lounge that combines cashierless Go stores with a café
- Amazon created 6 ‘tenets’ during talks with Starbucks about a new cashierless coffee shop, internal document shows
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