The e-commerce giant Amazon plans to open a robotic supermarket staffed by only six employees, according to sources.
The New York Post reports that Amazon seeks to unveil a larger, supermarket-size version of their recently announced Amazon Go store. The Amazon Go convenience store attempts to change the way the average person shops by introducing what they have named “Just Walk Out Technology.” As shoppers select items in the store, their Amazon app keeps track of their purchases and automatically charges the items to their account. This allows shoppers to simply pick up an item and leave the store without having to go through a checkout process or interact with any workers.
The new supermarket-sized store, which could occupy between 10,000 and 40,000 square feet, will reportedly only employ six actual workers while automated robots perform the rest of the daily shop maintenance and staffing. The store could feature as many as 4,000 items, spanning fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, meats and cheeses and of course, beer and wine. Much of the information relating to these stores comes from a source who spoke directly to the New York Post. “Amazon will utilize technology to minimize labor,” said the source.
The source further explained to the New York Post the function of the six workers that would operate the entire supermarket. A manager would work in the store mainly signing up customers for the “Amazon Fresh” grocery service. Another worker would be tasked with restocking shelves, and another two would operate the “drive-thru” windows for customers collecting their pre-ordered groceries. Two more employees would work in the stock room alongside automated robots, helping to bag groceries before they’re transported to the main floor via conveyor or lift system.
The threat of shoplifting remains a concern for Amazon, which worries that some may take advantage of their “grab and go” style shopping experience. The company considers hiring “greeters” to curb the threat of shoplifters.
“Shoplifting is a touchy subject for Amazon,” the source said, noting that Amazon may limit their store’s availability solely to users of their Amazon Prime membership. “In the view of Amazon, people who can afford Prime memberships aren’t likely to shoplift. If someone walks in off the street, they’ll be able to access the stores, but they’ll have to sign up for a membership which means showing an ID.”
The source stated that the supermarket style store was still in prototype stage and was not fully authorized for development. Amazon officials, however, have denied the planning of such a store according to the New York Post.
“As we’ve said previously, it’s not correct,” an Amazon spokesman told The Post. “We have no plans to build such a store.” The Washington Post reported in December that Amazon planned to open as many as 2000 stores across the U.S. Amazon denies this figure. Currently, a single, 1.800 square-foot, Amazon Go store operates in Seattle.