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Amazon Go is going small with tiny, cashier-free stores

Over the past year, Amazon has opened seven of its ...

Posted: Dec 12, 2018 11:08 AM
Updated: Dec 12, 2018 11:08 AM

Over the past year, Amazon has opened seven of its Amazon Go stores to the public, ditching checkout lines for AI that tracks what customers want to buy. Now, the retailer is taking its cashier-free shops in a new, smaller direction.

On Wednesday, Amazon opened its first pint-sized Amazon Go store, which takes up about 450 square feet inside one of its Seattle offices — a fraction of other Amazon Go locations, which range from 1,800 to 2,000 square feet.

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Amazon Go Vice President Gianna Puerini, who gave CNN Business a look around the store early this week, said the idea is to eventually bring them to places like office building lobbies and hospitals. Similar to the full-size stores, she said, they could go "anywhere where there's a lot of people who are hungry and in a rush."

Puerini wouldn't say when others will open, though she said she hopes they will crop up "soon." Such small stores could also help Amazon keep ahead of a handful of startups who are trying to convince existing retailers to buy their cashierless technology.

Unlike other Amazon Go stores — seven are open and two others are under construction — this one is not available to the general public. Only Amazon employees and guests can visit the store. The retailer took the same approach with its first Amazon Go store, which initially opened in 2016 just to employees. It's "just easier for us to experiment closer to home," Puerini said.

When CNN Business visited the new, small Amazon Go store, it was still hidden behind plywood and a black curtain. It looked very much like a regular Amazon Go store, but plopped in the middle of a common area in an Amazon office in downtown Seattle, right next to an employee café. (The office itself is above a much more traditional Macy's store.) This version of Amazon Go had just a few aisles, with shelves stocked full of cut fruit from Amazon-owned Whole Foods, yogurts, chocolate bars and more.

Though it's much smaller than the existing stand-alone Amazon Go stores, the technology behind this store is the same: after downloading an Amazon Go app, you scan an in-app code on an entry gate to get inside. Then a series of cameras above you work in concert with weight sensors on shelves and software to track the items you pick up and put down. As at all other Amazon Go stores, you walk out when you're done shopping, and the app emails you an itemized receipt.

The small stores could also allow Amazon to roll out more cashier-free locations faster than it could by simply opening stand-alone Amazon Go stores. The small stores are modular, Puerini said, and take only weeks to put together. That's much faster than it takes to open up a free-standing Amazon Go store, which the company said typically takes months.

The tiny shops could also be used to bring Amazon Go to a range of new markets, such as airports, which Amazon is reportedly considering for the AI-checkout stores. Puerini wouldn't confirm or deny whether Amazon is looking into opening Amazon Go stores of any size in airports, but said that, with many hungry people hurrying around, airports fit her "simple criteria" for the stores.

As with other Amazon Go stores, however, these won't be entirely self-sustaining. An employee will be needed to stock shelves when food arrives or clean up if a shopper, say, drops a glass Frappuccino bottle on the floor. The small, in-office location in Seattle will have set hours (it will be open from 7 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday), and it will be staffed during that time, as the current Amazon Go stores are.

"People do still want help. They like to ask the associates, 'What's your favorite? What should I get?' Or they might want to make sure about ingredients on something," Puerini said. "There's still a lot of human interaction."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
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Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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