Amazon to launch 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021

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Bloomberg points out that the initial stores have carried a high setup cost, requiring $1 million in hardware alone, making the prospect of opening 3,000 stores a multi-billion dollar investment.

The tech giant already has four locations of its Go stores up and running, but it may have up to 10 locations open by the end of the year, with as many as 50 by 2019, Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to the situation.

The company unveiled its first cashierless store near its headquarters in Seattle in 2016 and has since announced two additional sites in Seattle and one in Chicago.

The fourth Amazon Go store just opened, but a new report claims a lot more could be on the horizon. Los Angeles and NY have already been rumoured as cities to host Amazon Go stores.

If Amazon follows through with the rumored plan, it would pose a threat to convenience store chains like 7-Eleven, which must bear the expense of paying cashiers and other staff, Bloomberg said. Once inside, cameras and sensors track what they pick up from the shelves and what they put back. At present, the two older locations have salads, sandwiches, snacks, and a small range of groceries; the newer ones don't offer groceries at present.

An Amazon representative told Business Insider the company does not comment on "rumours or speculation".

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The most recent Amazon Go stores are more like the first in terms of size and offerings.

The new chain would be a massive expansion of Amazon's retail efforts, which also include Whole Foods as well as bookstores and in-mall kiosks. The first is on Amazon's campus in Seattle.

Amazon's flair for innovation and consumer acumen raise the potential for a major expansion of the Amazon Go format, according to Loop Capital analyst Andrew Wolf.

"Amazon needs to figure out how to grow this", said Soper, "but limit the cost because the cost of this technology is extremely expensive right now and so by narrowing the focus on simply prepared food, they can keep the cost down and expand more quickly".

To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile. Prepared foods also have wider profit margins than groceries, which would help decrease the time it takes for the stores to become profitable. Its key feature is a complete lack of lines to wait in.

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