Amazon Go Opens In Chicago

When Amazon opened its first Amazon Go location in Seattle earlier this year, I wrote:

On January 22, Amazon opened Amazon Go, its cashier-less convenience store concept, to the public. Pictures of the store show a small, 7-Eleven-like space filled with grab-and-go items, meal kits, and even alcohol. Almost as soon as news of its opening spread, speculation of Amazon’s plans for the technology behind Amazon Go spread as well. Will they license the technology to others? (eh, maybe) Bring it to Whole Foods? (eventually) Build Amazon Go stores across the United States? (yep).

Seven months later, Amazon has opened three more Go locations in Seattle, and on September 17, it quietly opened the first Go location outside of its home city, in Chicago's Loop.

Here are a few photos of the new location, at 113 S Franklin, for those in Chicago (it's the same building as Amazon's office in the city).

The entrance is unremarkable, just one door that opens to the street and another that opens into the attached office building (where Amazon resides). The space itself is also small, no larger than a 7-Eleven you might find in a downtown area.

The storefront to Amazon Go’s first Chicago location in the Loop

The storefront to Amazon Go’s first Chicago location in the Loop

Inside, the store is also pretty ordinary, with a long L-shaped refrigerated around along the walls, and a few rows of common convenience items lining the internal rows. The items have a decidedly more health-focused bent then traditional packaged goods one might see at convenience stores. The fridge space is filled with read-to-eat items for breakfast and lunch, and boxed dinners that can be taken home and prepped in "about 30 minutes," Blue Apron style.

A look inside Amazon Go Chicago

A look inside Amazon Go Chicago

My favorite part. Amazon made sure to send me a push notification after telling me my trip time, down to the second.

Amazon gives you a report after you live the store

Amazon gives you a report after you live the store

To me, this is the most impressive (read: scariest?) part of Amazon as a business. I've installed no less than seven Amazon apps on my phone: Kindle, Audible, Alexa, Amazon's "flagship" app, Amazon Go, Prime Now, and Whole Foods. In the new world where screen space is equivalent to shelf space, Amazon is clearly winning the battle for consumer attention. Google is the only company that comes close in terms of screen space (if you don't count some of Apple's default apps like calculator, Voice Memos). The two companies have very different monetization strategies though: Amazon primarily monetizes through "in-app" purchases, if you will, while Google collects data and then serves up ads when it can. And Amazon's in-app purchase strategy is scary-good; let's just add up a hypothetical use case:

  • Kindle: $12.99 for the book I'm currently reading (Essentialism, highly recommended)

  • Audible: $14.99 per month. And oh by the way, Audible/ Amazon recently announced their "Audible Originals" series, which allows subscribers to download two free Audible Originals per month. It's a clear sign that the company is going after the booming podcast / audio entertainment business.

  • Amazon Alexa: $35 for an Echo Dot (these things are on sale all the time, if you're paying full price, get smarter)

  • Amazon: $119 per year

  • Amazon Go: $8.79 on one lunch trip

  • Whole Foods: $625 (the average American spends $625 on groceries a month; I'd be willing to bet that Amazon's average customer spends more than this, and that Whole Foods captures a large, and growing share of this amount)

Amazon increasingly owns screen space, the “new shelf space”

Amazon increasingly owns screen space, the “new shelf space”

Of course, this doesn't include a few other Amazon products that are extremely popular: Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Music among them.

In its quest to become the "Everything Store", it's more clear than ever that Amazon has succeeded; just take this scenario:

You wake up on Monday morning and make a quick breakfast using the groceries you picked up at Whole Foods last night and put out some Wag dog food for your little pup (an Amazon Prime exclusive), while asking Alexa to talk you through your day. You catch the train to work, listening to your latest Audible find on the way. When noon comes around, you head down the street to your local Amazon Go store and grab a quick sandwich and bag of chips. That afternoon, your realize that you're out of toilet paper and don't have any food to prepare for dinner, so you place an order on Prime Now that will be at your door by the time you get home (to take this further, perhaps you have a Ring doorbell at your house and Amazon can drop the delivery right in your entry way. After cooking dinner, you climb into bed and fall asleep reading your Kindle or watching a few episodes of your favorite show on Prime Video.

Increasingly, Amazon owns everything. Except their workers, obviously – they're independent contractors!