Amazon must like the supermarket business.
Three years after it paid $13.4 billion for Whole Foods, the online retail giant is planning to open its second automated-checkout grocery store in Seattle’s Eastside neighborhood and is hiring managers for a third store in the city’s Capitol Hill district, The Seattle Times reported.
And it’s not stopping there.
Expect to see its conventional checkout grocery stores open in Seattle, California, Chicago and Washington, D.C, the Times reported.
The eCommerce giant launched the first traditional Go convenience store in Seattle in 2017. Today, there are 26 locations in Seattle, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, though several are temporarily closed.
Last November, Amazon said it planned to open cashierless Amazon Go supermarkets and pop-up stores in 2020 equipped with cameras and sensors that allow the company to bill shoppers through an app for items they pick off shelves, eliminating the need for a checkout line.
The expansion efforts could make Amazon a serious player in the $900 billion U.S. grocery industry.
A Go Grocery store will open soon at the former Sears automotive building in Redmond near its border with Bellevue, where Amazon is also adding corporate offices, The Times reported.
Not everyone is thrilled by Amazon’s expansion into the grocery business. Unions have cited Amazon has maintained its Whole Foods’ anti-union stance, the newspaper reported.
“This company does not share the same values as our community, and Amazon’s desire to replace workers is a threat to working people of all walks of life,” Joseph Mizrahi, secretary-treasurer of United Food and Commercial Workers 21, which represents more than 46,000 workers in Washington state, told The Times.
But Amazon points to its hundreds of thousands of U.S. employees in warehouses, logistics networks and automated as well as conventional grocery stores.
Amazon has expanded its grocery businesses to get a bigger foothold against Walmart and Kroger, the market leaders, analysts say.
Amazon reported its first quarter results had net sales at its 571 Whole Foods and book stores of more than $4.6 billion, up 7.7 percent from a year earlier, The Times reported.
That figure does not include online grocery orders that are fulfilled through its physical stores.
In March, Amazon reached out to other large retailers offering to collaborate on cashierless, automated stores. But rivals Walmart and Target don’t seem interested.
Traditional brick-and-mortar peers are suspicious of the eCommerce company and see Amazon as a threat, The Times reported.
Amazon hopes to get retail into thrifty, quick-paced networking technology, automated decision-making for things like invoicing and cashierless technology.