Business Insider reports that Amazon and Starbucks have been working on the launch of a new format store - codenamed "Verde" - that would combine elements of a Starbucks coffee shop and the food sold in an Amazon Go store, using Just-Walk-Out checkout-free technology.
According to the story, the format "was designed to build a lounge-style cafe that offers both Starbucks's craft beverages and Amazon's assortment of baked goods and hot foods, without the hassle of having to wait in line to check out, according to Amazon's internal document obtained by Insider.
"The initial layout of the store shows Amazon Go's food section within a cafe that has a lounge seating area. Customers would have to use separate apps for pay — Starbucks's app for drinks and Amazon's app for food — though the companies eventually want to build an integrated solution. The store was expected to have a newly created brand."
The story notes that it is unknown if the two companies are still working on the project, or if there is a potential launch date. While the original plan was for a Q4 2020 opening, it seems likely that obstacles created by the pandemic got in the way.
However, a number of stories about "Verde" observe that it seems indicative of Amazon's broader intentions about both the use of checkout-fee technology and bricks-and-mortar retail.
From Business Insider:
"The plan further demonstrates Amazon's ambition to expand the JWO technology behind its cashierless Go stores into new areas … The potential partnership could give Amazon new monetization channels for the JWO technology, as its cashierless Go stores still largely remain unprofitable, according to two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive topics. An Amazon-branded cafe would be the e-commerce giant's latest foray into physical stores, which already includes grocery stores, bookstores, and a hair salon, among others."
"The reported talks reflect Amazon’s ambitions to take the technology well beyond its own stores and initial third-party implementations. Starbucks’ apparent interest also shows the potential value of the technology to other retailers and venues, noting that Starbucks considered it 'a top ten initiative' at the time, supporting its goal of eliminating lines."
- KC's View:
The Business Insider piece makes the point that there may be some operational issues getting in the way, such as Starbucks wanting customers to earn loyalty points - and probably be able to spend them - even on items bought from the Amazon food side of the store.
You'd think they could work stuff like this out. What also doesn't; t make sense to me is that they would have separate payment systems at the beginning. Again, they ought to be able to figure this stuff out … at least for a test of a concert that could be really interesting, and certainly would be something from which bothy companies could learn.