Retail Pulse: Amazon Go Opens Second Store; Whole Foods Sees More Foot Traffic


Amazon, which has dived into the grocery business with its acquisition of Whole Foods, is moving its Amazon Go cashierless C-store beyond its corporate campus. This week, Amazon expanded the concept by opening the doors to its second Amazon Go store at the foot of an office building in its hometown of Seattle.

The new store works much like the first location, The Seattle Times reported: In the original store, customers download the Amazon Go app on their mobile device and scan an app upon entering. They then proceed to shop, but don’t have to check out when exiting. Instead, the store uses cameras and sensors on shelves, as well as a computer vision system, to scan the items consumers purchase and automatically charge them to the shoppers’ Amazon accounts.

That said, Amazon’s new store is a bit different than its original location. For starters, there isn’t as much space: The new store is only 1,450 square feet compared to the 1,800-square-foot area of the first location. In addition, the new store comes with changes to product selection, as it lacks a liquor aisle and doesn’t carry some staples, such as bread or milk. And, while some prepared foods in Amazon Go’s original store were made on the premises, the selection in the retailer’s second store will be provided by an Amazon facility in Seattle.

The new store also has a different mix of customers than the first Amazon Go location. While the original was near residential areas, this one is said to serve office workers, as it is at the foot of an office tower. And when it came to opening the new store, Amazon didn’t need to undergo an extensive period of testing to ensure that everything worked correctly. By comparison, the retailer spent a year in beta with its original location.

“The first store, we opened it in beta for about a year, and the reason had little to do with the technology and more to do with the fact that we thought we would need to open it to the public, but the demand from the Amazon population itself was substantial enough for us to be able to learn whatever we needed to,” Amazon Go and Amazon Books Vice President of Technology Dilip Kumar told GeekWire. “The second store, we could just piggyback off of those learnings plus the things that we’re doing here now.”

Will Amazon open more Amazon Go stores? Although those plans aren’t set in stone, job postings in May suggested that the retailer may be eyeing cities such as San Francisco beyond the reaches of its hometown of Seattle.

In Other Brick-and-Mortar News…

Whole Foods has seen an increase in foot traffic at more than 100 U.S. locations in the year since its acquisition by Amazon for $13.7 billion, stealing customers from rivals like Trader Joe’s, Walgreens and Dollar Tree. Amazon has used discounts to attract loyal Prime members to the physical stores.

Data from Sense360, which covers Whole Foods locations within one mile of competing stores, suggests that competitors aren’t hurting, but that Amazon is getting traction at the “micro” level. “We’re at the very beginning stages, and these things take time,” said Sense360 Chief Executive Officer Eli Portnoy, according to Bloomberg. “These findings show there will be an impact.”

Papa John’s has hired Bank of America and Lazard as financial advisors, as the national chain tries to recover from weak sales and negative publicity surrounding its founder. According to CNBC, the company’s shares have fallen by almost 45 percent over the last year.

In July, John Schnatter, the company’s founder and former CEO, officially resigned his position as chairman of the board. The news came hours after he acknowledged the use of inappropriate language during a May conference call and offered a public apology.

CVS has partnered with on-demand, in-home beauty service Glamsquad to offer customers beauty treatments and services at select locations. According to Well+Good, the treatments will be the center of the retailer’s new BeautyIRL store concepts.

Some of the services that will be available include blowouts, dry styling, braids, a 30-minute makeup refresher, skin services and manicures. Glamsquad is already available in four CVS BeautyIRL locations in Florida, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and additional locations are scheduled for 2019.