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Is Amazon testing cashier-less grocery stores?

amazon_go_in_seattle_december_2016

After opening several of its Amazon Go cashier-less convenience stores in the Pacific Northwest and Chicago in 2018–and planning up to 3,000 total within the next few years–Amazon is beginning to test the same technology in a larger format, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

The Seattle-based behemoth is testing the technology in a bigger space that is laid out like a large store, the news outlet said, citing unnamed sources. Though Amazon Go sells groceries, it hasn’t yet been reported that the larger store being tested will be an actual grocery store. The most likely candidate for the Amazon Go, “just walk out” tech would be Whole Foods Market stores, which are much larger than the Amazon Go stores the company has been opening in cities across the country.

READ: Real-time feedback helps Amazon Go stock its shelves

Amazon operates three Amazon Go stores in Seattle; three in Chicago; and one in San Francisco. Even though the e-commerce giant has shown it can expand the format in a short timeframe, larger stores could take more time to open, WSJ said. (Amazon Go’s debut encountered a long delay due to its technology’s difficulty tracking people and products, even within its 1,800-sq.-ft. space.)

If Amazon is planning a “just walk out” grocery store, this could make the e-commerce company and its physical operations stronger threats to brick-and-mortar grocers. Recent research from InMarket suggests that Amazon Go stores are more of a threat to convenience stores than to grocers: Visits to Amazon Go differ from those to traditional grocers in that the weekdays see strong traffic–with Wednesday the busiest day–but not so much the weekends. This contrasts with traditional grocers’ heavy reliance on weekend foot traffic to survive and thrive.

A version of this article appeared at ProgressGrocer.com.

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