Amazon May Open 3,000 Stores in Next Three Years

Shoppers examine ready meals at the first Amazon Go in Seattle Washington in January. After more than a year on trials Amazon opened the cashier-less store to the public

It would mark the latest example of Amazon's rapidly growing e-commerce, cloud computing and, now, advertising empires - as the firm's online advertising business gets closer to overshadowing the likes of Google and Facebook.

The first Go store opened to the public in January at Amazon's Seattle headquarters, following more than a yearlong test run open only to employees. No queues, no waiting, it says. Two other stores, including the original Amazon Go, also have a small selection of groceries, making it more akin to a convenience store. Amazon accounts are automatically charged for goods purchased, which are tracked with over 100 cameras in the store, when you remove an item off the shelf. With 3,000 stores to its name, Amazon would stand to take a sizable bite of that pie. It would also give Amazon a much expanded footprint of physical stores in the USA, adding to its more than 350 Whole Foods stores.

Maybe "popping down to the Go for a quick bite" won't sound so unusual by 2021. The first is on Amazon's campus in Seattle.

Such an expansion could put Amazon back into an investment cycle.

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When The Wall Street Journal reported a year ago that Amazon envisioned opening 2,000 brick-and-mortar grocery stores of different formats, the company took the rare step of refuting the report, instead of issuing its usual one-line statement declining to comment on reports of unannounced plans. "If we offer a me-too product, it's not going to work", he said.

There are plans to open six more by the end of the year, and up to 50 stores in 2019. Opening multiple locations in proximity, like it's doing in Seattle, could also help Amazon reduce costs by centralising food production in one kitchen serving many stores.

The move comes as another corner of Amazon's vast empire is set to expand. For reference, there are about 155,000 convenience stores across the country, and about 80 percent of those are combined with gas stations. A fourth AmazonGo opened Monday in Chicago and there are plans to open a fifth in New York City. Shoppers rate location and a lack of lines as the most important factors when shopping for convenience, he said.

What's more, Amazon has grown its advertising business 242 percent since 2017, eMarketer said. "The key to success will be convenient locations".

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