In December last year, Amazon unveiled its vision of grocery shopping called Amazon Go. It involves no lines or registers, just you, an app, and a completely automated shopping experience that should appeal to just about everyone. Here at PCMag we have a few reservations, but a test store in Seattle is planned to open this year to prove it can work.
Beyond that, Amazon is apparently toying with the idea of opening larger supermarkets. According to the New York Post, a two-story store of between 10,000 and 40,000 square feet is under consideration. Where as the Amazon Go store is for convenience, a supermarket would cater to your entire weekly shop.
A store that big would offer 4,000 items for sale. However, unlike a typical supermarket manned by dozens of staff, Amazon's version requires only three human employees to function and a maximum of 10 employees per shift.
Such a small number of staff is made possible due to two of Amazon's key pieces of technology: automation and robots. As we saw in December, Amazon isn't interested in customers lining up to pay for their goods. Amazon Go automates that entire experience.
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The New York Post explains that the few staff required will be split across restocking shelves, signing up customers to Amazon Fresh, manning a drive-thru window for order collection, and helping robots bag groceries. I'd imagine the number of staff would vary with how busy the store got at different times of the day and week, but it would still never exceed 10.
On the one hand, this sounds great for anyone who hates waiting in line and wants more than a convenience store. On the other, if this proves popular and works faultlessly, it doesn't bode well for the future of jobs at supermarkets. Where Amazon succeeds others will surely follow.