Amazon Go in Chicago

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Amazon Go in Chicago

By Steve Frenda - 11/09/2018

I've seen many articles about and pictures of the new Amazon Go stores. With that in mind, I knew I was overdue to visit one myself. So I did, on Nov. 8 at the Chicago location at 113 S. Franklin Street. (See the photo gallery below.)

One of my main motivations was to see if entry and checkout lived up to expectations. The premise: Shoppers with Amazon accounts can simply walk right out the door – their items in hand – without having to endure the hassle of waiting in line and fumbling through their wallets for cash or a credit card.

Admittedly, it all sounds pretty cool to me, but sometimes it can be hard to determine if ambitious endeavors like Amazon Go are actually game-changers or nothing more than highly acclaimed gimmicks.

When it was time to check out, everything worked exactly as advertised. You just walk out through a turnstile on your way out and you’re all set. No cashier. No credit card. No cash. No wait. No lines.

It was actually eerily convenient and easy. A few minutes after leaving the store I received a notification from the app with my receipt. The receipt was accurate in spite of me picking up a number of items to identify the manufacturer.

There were a couple of things that really struck me:

  • The store was quite small. I would estimate 2,000 square feet. The mix of products was definitely convenience, portable and snack oriented, so this appears to be a significant threat to urban c-store operators and even the Starbucks lunch crowd, and certainly not to traditional supermarkets and drug operators.
  • I find it a bit ironic that there were a half-dozen "orange shirts" on the floor tending to restocking, answering questions and helping with the app/entry to the store. They were certainly helpful as I observed them answering questions, but when you think Amazon, you think automation.

In conclusion, I highly recommend making it a point to experience this retail scene as your travels permit.

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