Amazon Go opened up its first store in New York today, but more remarkable than the location is the fact that it will be the first Go store to accept cash payments.
This is a big deal as Amazon Go was created to be a frictionless shopping experience with no checkout lines. The whole point was to scan your phone as you walk in, have banks of sensors and cameras keep track of what you pick up, and automatically bill you as you walk out of the store.
While that type of shopping is pretty amazing, Amazon Go became a poster child for a growing cashless backlash. Going cashless means large swaths of people, particularly poor and underbanked, don’t have access to credit cards and were thus shut out of these experiences. In reaction to this digital discrimination, state and local governments like New Jersey and Philadelphia enacted laws prohibiting cashless retail, with more cities like New York and San Francisco considering similar regulations.
Amazon tried fighting these new laws and lost, so last month, the company acquiesced and said it would begin accepting cash payments. At the time, this raised the question, how would a store built around having no cashiers accept cash?
The answer, according to CNET, which got a tour of the new New York location, is that the store has a separate entrance staffed by a person for those paying with cash. Once your shopping is done, there is a counter in the middle of the store where a person with a handheld scanner checks you out, accepts payment and will even give you a paper receipt. Amazon did not say whether this new cash acceptance system will be rolled out to its eleven other existing stores.
The New York store is the twelfth Amazon Go location and is situated in Brookfield Place in downtown NY.