SEATTLE—Amazon is preparing to open its second automated-checkout grocery store—this one in Redland, Washington—and is also hiring managers for a Washington, D.C., outlet, reports the Seattle Times. In addition, new locations of its conventional checkout grocery stores are coming to Seattle, California, and the Chicago and Washington, D.C., areas.
According to the company’s website, a Go Grocery store is “coming soon” to a former Sears automotive building in Redmond, Washington, where Amazon also plans to add corporate offices. The company’s first Go Grocery opened on Capitol Hill in Seattle this year after a long development period.
The Go Grocery concept is a larger version of the Go convenience stores, which have no checkout lines. Launched in 2016, the company now has 26 locations in Seattle, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, all of them using technology to bill shoppers for items they pick off shelves.
In addition to the Whole Foods chain it acquired in 2017, Amazon introduced a separate grocery store format with a conventional checkout in Woodland Hills, California, early this year. In March, it was temporarily converted to a fulfillment facility for online grocery orders during the coronavirus pandemic. A second store in Irvine, California, was similarly repurposed. Additionally, many Whole Foods stores have been altered under Amazon’s ownership to accommodate more online orders and serve as pickup points for other Amazon shipments.
Grocery unions have criticized Amazon’s moves in the grocery business, citing the company’s pursuit of automation as a risk to grocery store jobs. To counter criticism, Amazon points to its thousands of U.S. employees in warehouses, logistics networks and grocery stores—both automated and conventional.
A company spokesperson confirmed the Redmond and Washington, D.C., Go Grocery stores, as well as conventional stores coming to North Hollywood, and the Chicago suburbs of Oak Lawn, Schaumburg and Naperville.
Amazon has developed a range of grocery concepts as it vies for a bigger slice of the grocery business against U.S. market leaders Walmart and Kroger. Some industry analysts see the company’s development of its own conventional-checkout stores as a key to tapping grocery shoppers beyond the affluent Whole Foods demographic. Amazon also has demonstrated how its new stores can serve both online and in-person grocery shoppers, a hybrid approach that is quickly becoming more normal to shoppers due to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s 10,400-square-foot Go Grocery store in Seattle opened in February. It stocks about 5,000 items in a wider range of categories than the Go convenience stores.
Plans filed with the city of Redmond indicate that Amazon’s second store with automated checkout will include about 19,500 square feet and feature an outdoor dining area. Even before the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing recession, retail analysts said Amazon was well-positioned to take advantage of the commercial real estate market.