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Back in 2018, Amazon opened its first major in-person retailer: a grocery store called Amazon Go. When The New York Times covered this venture, it described the store as a shop of the future. Journalist Nick Wingfield explained how it stood out from other grocery stores: “There are no cashiers or registers anywhere. Shoppers leave the store through those same gates, without pausing to pull out a credit card. Their Amazon account automatically gets charged for what they take out the door.”
Now, in 2023, where is Amazon Go headed?
Amazon is closing eight Amazon Go locations in Seattle, New York and San Francisco, it announced last Friday. Two are already closed, and the remaining six will stay open until April 1. After laying off thousands of employees this year, it’s not much of a surprise that Amazon is looking to cut costs wherever possible.
“Like any physical retailer, we periodically assess our portfolio of stores and make optimization decisions along the way,” said Amazon spokesperson Jessica Martin in a statement. “We remain committed to the Amazon Go format, operate more than 20 Amazon Go stores across the US and will continue to learn which locations and features resonate most with customers.”
It may seem strange that Amazon has been trying its hand at physical shops, considering that the online marketplace is kind of its MO. And getting into the physical retail industry has been a lot for Amazon to handle. It closed many of its bookstores and other shops all over the US before expanding the grocery store experiment. And Amazon has also paused the expansion of its other (cashier-full) grocery outlet, Amazon Fresh stores, as it figures out how to really attract shoppers.
Even with plans to shut down these eight Amazon Go stores, the company still plans on opening more. It just recently opened a new location in Puyallup, Washington, last month. With 29 stores currently operating, we’ll have to wait and see if Amazon Go gets the green light to really take off.