Amazon, the company that has conquered virtual shopping, is now trying to do the same in the bricks-and-mortar world. Its Amazon Books stores are already open in Seattle, San Diego, Portland, Chicago, and Dedham, Massachusetts, near Boston. Five more, including one in New York City and one in Paramus, New Jersey, are coming soon.
And that's just the beginning of Amazon's plans for real-world retail. Here are some new types of Amazon store you may be seeing, perhaps sooner than you think:
1. A convenience store with no checkout or cash register.
The store, called Amazon Go, is already operating inside Amazon's Seattle campus for use by employees (who are often the first test customers for its new concepts). It works like this: On your way into the store, you scan a code on a smartphone app. Once inside, sensors and A.I. recognize the items you pick up and add them to your Amazon shopping cart. If you change your mind and put something back, the item is removed. Then you just walk out. Your account is charged and you receive a receipt via the app.
2. A truck that drives around selling only one special item each day.
This concept, called Treasure Truck, is already operating in and around Seattle. It works like this: Each day, Amazon choose one special item and offers it at a discount. The truck roams around town, and if you've signed up for the service, you'll receive a text when the truck is in your neighborhood. If you want the item, you buy it on Amazon, select one of the truck's pick-up locations, and go get your item. The truck, which looks like a carnival on wheels, will be easy to spot. Retired Seattle Seahawk Marshawn Lynch got to drive it for a day.
3. A drive-up store where people bring pre-ordered groceries to your car.
Geekwire and others have been observing the construction of two Amazon drive-up grocery stores in Seattle with parking under metal shelters, although the company has yet to announce when they will open. According to papers filed with the city that Geekwire obtained, the stores will be called AmazonFresh Pickup. According to these documents, customers will order online, select a time for pickup, then drive to the store and park in one of the spots. Store employees will carry orders out to shoppers' cars, with wait time expected to be about five minutes.
4. A furniture and appliance store with augmented reality.
This is only at the concept stage, but The New York Times has learned that Amazon is considering creating a bricks-and-mortar store for things such as furniture and appliances that shoppers are reluctant to buy without having seen them first. The store might offer augmented or virtual reality to help shoppers figure out how these items would look in their homes. Also at the just-talking-about-it stage: Apple-style electronics stores that would sell the Amazon Echo and Amazon's streaming video service.