Imagine walking into a store, grabbing what you want off the shelves, putting the items right into your bag and then walking out — no checkout lines required!
Amazon has made that a reality with its Amazon Go convenience stores. You may have seen them if you’ve recently traveled to New York, San Francisco or Chicago.
Now Amazon is taking the concept to the next level with its new Go Grocery stores. There are only two of these stores open in the country right now, both in Seattle. They’re slightly bigger than the Amazon Go convenience stores and will carry more groceries, including fresh produce.
Jonathan Capriel, a writer for the Washington Business Journal covering Amazon-related news, learned there are two of these new Amazon Go Grocery stores planned for the District.
“There’s one coming to H Street in D.C., and then there’s one coming to the new development, The Liz at 1707 14th St.,” Capriel said.
We recently stopped by the locations and both have the windows covered. Amazon isn’t confirming anything at this point, which experts say is not unusual for the company.
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“Amazon is tight-lipped because there’s really no advantage to them to get the PR,” said Bill Bishop, a grocery industry analyst and co-founder of Brick Meets Click. “Whereas if Giant Foods was opening a store or Harris Teeter was opening a store, part of the marketing they do was, ‘Hey, here’s a new store on Main and Vine,’ but Amazon doesn’t need that.”
Amazon’s grocery plans don’t stop there. Capriel says the company has at least four Amazon Fresh locations in the works in Maryland and Virginia. The very first Amazon Fresh store opened at the end of August in Los Angeles. Three more quickly followed in the area, and one is opening in Chicago this week.
“It’s different than a Whole Foods,” Capriel said. “It’s going to have a lot more regular things that you would find in like a Giant or a Shoppers or a Kroger.”
Amazon Fresh will carry the 365 Whole Foods brand, national brands like Coca-Cola and Kraft, as well as regional favorites. Industry experts tell us the prices are competitive, sometimes even lower than Walmart.
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And it’s Amazon, so you know there’s going to be some cool technology involved. Shoppers will be able to use their Amazon account to shop with a smart shopping cart called the Dash Cart.
Once you scan the barcode on your phone, you can add items directly to the bags in your cart. Sensors keep track of what you’re buying so you can skip the traditional checkout line.
Here’s where Capriel says we could see these Amazon Fresh stores locally, and the clues we found when we visited the sites.
In Franconia, the former Shoppers is being transformed. We noticed the outside of that store resembles one of the Los Angeles locations.
In the city of Fairfax, a brand new store was just built as part of the "Point 50" shopping center on Fairfax Boulevard. We spotted the word “Alexa” painted on the wall inside when we peeked through an opening in a window.
In Chevy Chase, a former Giant is under construction. A worker on site told us an Amazon grocery store is moving in.
And the Office Depot that just closed on Shady Grove Road in Gaithersburg is expected to become an Amazon Fresh as well.
So just when will these stores open? Since Amazon isn’t talking, we asked Capriel if he’s found any clues in his reporting.
“I’ve seen some indications that they’ve said maybe in 2021, so maybe after the new year, but exactly when — only Amazon knows for sure,” Capriel said with a laugh.