Amazon opens its second Amazon Go convenience store

Amazon this morning announced the opening of its second Amazon Go convenience store, which is again located in the retailer’s hometown of Seattle. The new store is 1,450 square feet in size – a bit smaller than the first store’s 1800 square feet – and will be located at 5th and Marion in Seattle. It will feature a range of ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, as well as Amazon’s Meal Kits.

The food options will be made by Amazon chefs and various local kitchens and bakeries, the retailer notes. For example, it will stock quick snacks like chips, bars, candy and locally made chocolates, along with lunch options like salads, sandwiches, and wraps. For dinner, the Amazon Meal Kits offer all the ingredients for a home-cooked meal for two that takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

This is a smaller selection than available at the flagship Amazon Go store, which also stocked beer and wine and various grocery items, including Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value brand products.

Also because of the store’s smaller size, there’s not a kitchen on the premises. Instead, the fresh food will come from an Amazon kitchen elsewhere in Seattle, according to a report from The Seattle Times, which toured the space ahead of its opening.

The store will be open only on weekdays, from 7 AM to 7 PM, Amazon says, as it’s meant to cater more to the office worker crowd.

Earlier reports had said Amazon was planning to open as many as six Amazon Go locations throughout 2018. But the company has not publicly discussed its roadmap. In May, however, Amazon job postings pointed to store plans for Chicago and San Francisco. Amazon would only confirm plans were in the works, not when it would launch in those markets. It’s been expected that the first handful of Go stores would arrive in Seattle and L.A.

This second location works the same as the first, from a technology perspective.

The Go store’s system includes a number of cameras mounted overhead that track shoppers’ movements from every angle, weight sensors on the shelves, and the Amazon Go mobile app, which is swiped on the way in to automatically charge shoppers for whatever they take.

The stores are a feat, in terms of computer vision and machine learning, and have spurred a market of competitors who want to bring similar technology to Amazon’s rivals and other retailers. But some question the necessity of replacing human store staff with camera arrays and other technology only to save shoppers only a minute or so of time at checkout.

Eventually, the larger vision here is reducing headcount – despite any claims to the contrary about shifting workers to “customer service” and “stocking.”

Combined with other advances that automate out the need for as many employees in jobs like fast food, quick serve restaurants, coffee houses, and apparel shops, one has to wonder if it’s responsible to develop the technology that eliminates jobs, before there’s a plan to train workers in the jobs of the future – which could be those involving maintenance on the machines that replaced them, optical engineers, A.I. and software developers, and other tech work.

In the long-term, workers may gain access to better, higher-paying jobs as a result of these changes, but the immediate result is short-term layoffs, as those who have jobs in convenience stores aren’t trained to be software engineers.

Amazon isn’t currently discussing its opening dates for future Go stores.