Amazon and its intrepid CEO, Jeff Bezos, haven’t made any secret of their push to dominate other industries. Space travel? Sure! Healthcare? Why not? Real estate? I… guess?
Now, it looks like the trillion-dollar company is setting its sights on courting a new market: the brick-and-mortar retailers that Amazon has systematically gutted for roughly a decade. Speaking with Reuters, the ecommerce behemoth confirmed that it would be rolling out a new product line for its cashless checkout-tech that was debuted in the various iterations of its Amazon Go retail locations.
It’s a move that’s puzzling for more than a few reasons, the biggest being that the only companies that could afford to roll out this kind of enterprise-level retail tech—the big box-ers of the world like Walmart and Kroger—have already made it abundantly clear that Amazon is the last company they’d want to be working with. In fact, in the months since Amazon beat out Walmart for the title of biggest retailer on the planet, Walmart has been seen partnering with fellow Amazon rival Microsoft in attempts to beat out the Bezos-owned company for retail supremacy, including a Microsoft-powered competitor for Amazon Go.
According to Reuters, the licensed tech will have shoppers plug in their credit card into a turnstile—bearing the logo “Just Walk Out technology by Amazon”—at the store entrance. Whatever this shopper picks up during their Grocery Excursion will be plopped into their “virtual cart,” and then billed to the credit card they have on tap upon exiting that same set of turnstiles. Each of the stores outfitted with this tech will also feature ceiling cameras meant to track the movements of every customer throughout the store (not creepy at all), and weight sensors meant to detect when a given item’s been plucked from or returned to a shelf.
Aside from grinding brick-and-mortar retailers down to a pulp, Amazon’s Go tech has another, less overt problem: classism. As anyone will tell you, the only people clamoring for a cashless future are the upper class, with more than half of the people shopping at locations like Amazon Go earning more than $100,000 per year. This might explain why the first retailers approached by Amazon are those that fit squarely in the high-falutin’ category, like movie theaters and airports, CNBC reported.
On the other side of that coin, the people who aren’t as well-off are faced with significant boundaries to shopping at these new futuristic locations—which led to Philadelphia becoming the first city in the U.S. to ban cashless stores roughly a year ago, followed shortly by San Francisco, New York City, and the state of New Jersey.
But despite cashless bans and the bitter rivalry between Amazon and well, the entire retail landscape, it looks like a few retailers have already resigned to becoming a part of Amazon’s orbit, with Reuters confirming that the company has signed “several” deals with unnamed customers over licenses for its cashier-less technology. Biting that bullet could be a way for these stores to take the plunge into the estimated $50 billion dollar market for this kind of retail, without having to headbutt Amazon to get those dollars.