You might think a grocery store built by Amazon, which has a history of radically re-thinking existing business processes, would be radically different (instead of shelves, just rows of Star Trek-like replicators, perhaps). But Bloomberg got their hands on some plans and photos from inside the yet-to-open Amazon supermarket, and it looks… like pretty much like a regular ‘ole grocery store.
The first of three LA-area Amazon grocery stores is supposed to open next month in Woodland Hills, CA. Bloomberg writes that the 33,000 sq. ft. facility features a meat and seafood section as well as a “Fresh Kitchen” for making prepared foods. But in addition to these regular features, there are a couple of bits of Amazon flair.
First, the store will be equipped with digital tags, similar to the ones used in Amazon’s 4 Star stores, which can change prices and indicated different inventory on a shelf.
There is also a window dedicated to grocery pick up orders and returns. As Bloomberg writes:
Plans show a staging area behind the window with what appears to be shelving, potentially for order pickups from both customers and delivery service providers, who will shuttle orders to people’s homes. A television display and whiteboard sit alongside the return counter, likely to help orchestrate the chaos of deliveries into and out of the store.
Last fall, Amazon waived the fee for one- and two-hour grocery delivery for its Prime members (of which there are 150 million globally). That move seems to have helped spark a surge in deliveries as Amazon reported in its most recent earnings that grocery delivery orders from Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh doubled in its fourth quarter year-over-year.
Equally interesting in Bloomberg’s report is what appears to be missing from Amazon’s grocery store. Amazon has said before that the store won’t feature cashierless checkout a la Amazon Go. But from what Bloomberg describes, the store also won’t feature a back-of-house, robot-powered micro-fulfillment center to speed up online grocery orders either.
One big grain of salt with all this is that Bloomberg is only reporting on the plans and photos it’s seen. There could be a lot more to come that Amazon is being tight-lipped about. Additionally, this is just the first store for Amazon. Perhaps it didn’t want to frighten away potential shoppers with too much tech. With omnichannel grocery shopping valued at more than $1 trillion in the US, it’s safe to assume Amazon is playing the long game and has plenty of time to make buying food radically different.