This article was written by Chris Walton for Forbes.com on January 25, 2022 and is now available on Omni Talk for free to Omni Talk subscribers.
Amazon Go is coming to suburbia! Amazon announced today that a much larger Amazon Go style format, roughly 6,150 square feet, will open soon in Mill Creek, Washington, with plans to expand to the Los Angeles metro area in the coming months.
The size of the new format is roughly two times larger than the typical Amazon Go store found in urban locations, and, as a result, Amazon says that the store will “offer customers a quick and convenient shopping experience to pick up grab-and-go food, snacks and beverage items, and a few everyday essentials,” including “a full selection of beer and wine.”
While the date of the new store opening is not yet announced, the larger format move into suburbia is important for a number of reasons:
#1 – Suburbanites hate to wait in lines, too
The new store format will incorporate the best part about Amazon Go — its “Just Walk Out” technology.
Shoppers simply scan a barcode on their phones, insert their credit cards, or wave their palms over a reader to enter the store and then can take whatever they want off the shelves, walk out, and pay electronically, just like they would getting out of an Uber or a Lyft.
It is a brilliant, time saving, and addictive way to shop, especially if all one has to do is wave their palm and never have to wait in a convenience store line ever again.
#2 – It puts Amazon closer to the customer for delivery
The instant delivery startups, the Gopuffs, Buyks, and Getirs of the world, have an enormous amount of VC funding because their business promise to deliver goods to customers in 15 minutes or less poses a disintermediation threat to Amazon, and especially if they are ever able to make it happen for Amazon’s core suburban base.
One point in the announcement today makes it very clear then that this new format is as much defensive at it is offensive — i.e. the size of the backroom.
While the store is 6,150 square feet, the front of house is only 3,240 square feet, so the backroom takes up nearly 50% of the total box. Now, to be fair, an Amazon spokesperson said that a portion of the space would be used as kitchen prep for the expanded assortment of hot food items in the store, but 50%? That is still an awful lot of space.
Which leaves one simple question — Why?
Deliveries. Plain and simple.
And the idea of super quick and fast ones at that.
#3 – It is only Day 1 of what this new format could ultimately look like
Amazon also teased today that it is excited to announce “several new selection offerings at this new format once the store opens in the coming months.” While an Amazon spokesperson would not confirm nor give any indications as to what this meant, other than to say that Amazon is “excited to introduce” these new offerings to customers once the store opens and even to “stay tuned,” one has to wonder if, down the line, Starbucks won’t be a part of this new store format at some point, too.
Amazon and Starbucks are already testing a combined Amazon Go and Starbucks Pickup Only store in NYC, so it is reasonable, looking at the size of the format and the rendering of the site itself (which looks almost exactly like a Starbucks), to conclude that the addition of Starbucks could also be in play for suburbia.
All in all, an expanded Amazon Go format is a brilliant move for Amazon.
It puts Amazon closer to the consumer from a last-mile standpoint, which tightens Amazon’s defenses against the quick delivery threat, and, most importantly, it gives the suburban consumer more of what Amazon is great at — providing a convenient, frictionless shopping experience on one’s own schedule.
And, maybe, just maybe it will even satisfy a few caffeine addictions at the same time.
One can hope anyway.