Cashless retail, to a point, and then cashless and cash, too.
Steve Kessel, who as a senior vice president helms the physical store operations for Amazon, reportedly said last month that the expansion of payment options would take place at the stores, but no timeline was available as of this writing. Kessel’s statement, which was made at an internal meeting, was confirmed by an unnamed Amazon spokesperson.
The apparent shift in payments policy – up to now, the 10 extant stores had been marked by a cashierless existence – comes amid criticism against the company contending that cashless retail discriminates against unbanked consumers.
“We’re in earlier days, but it’s an important focus for us, and we’ll continue to extend those methods with our stores,” Kessel said at the meeting, as noted in a recording CNBC said it heard. Among other payment methods added across Amazon was a pilot that accepts government benefits tied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Beyond the 10 Amazon Go stores currently operating, the company has plans to open 3,000 more locations by 2021, according to reports.
In terms of mechanics, CNBC said the unnamed spokesperson said that “you’ll check out, pay with cash and then get your change” as “we are working to accept cash” at the stores.
As has been widely reported, the first major city in the United States to ban cashless stores was Philadelphia, where the ban came last month, and New Jersey followed. Other cities mulling doing the same include New York and Chicago, among others.