Amazon would like us all not to get too carried away envisioning its plans for those futuristic, cashier-free grocery stores unveiled on Monday.
Though a report from The Wall Street Journal indicated that Amazon eventually hopes to open 2,000 such stores, Amazon denied that this was true in a comment to CNET yesterday, saying, “It's absolutely not correct.”
“We have no plans to open 2,000 of anything,” the Amazon spokesperson said. “Not even close. We are still learning.”
There’s a difference between hoping and planning
That certainly indicates that a wide rollout of these stores isn’t in the immediate future. But that wasn’t exactly what the Journal said. It wrote that Amazon’s 2,000 store rollout was dependent on “the success of the new test locations” — so it’s entirely possible that Amazon doesn’t currently have plans to open 2,000 stores, but that it is in fact eyeing such a possibility.
The Journal’s story is backed up by a Business Insider report from October, which said the publication had viewed internal documents indicating that Amazon believes the US could support 2,000 of its own grocery stores. However, the report indicated that Amazon was only interested in opening 20 of those stores in the next two years.
Responding to Amazon’s denial, the Journal said, “We are confident in our sources and stand by our original reporting." In a follow up article, its sources continued to confirm Amazon’s vision of building out 2,000 stores, should the tests be successful.
The store concept launched this week with a single location in Seattle, closer in size to a convenience store. Its main attraction is the promise of being completely free of lines, by removing the need for checkout. Instead, the store will use cameras, sensors, and other tracking tech to identify which items a shopper has picked up and will automatically charge them to the person’s Amazon account when they leave.
The Journal also said that Amazon is working on a drive-through model, which would not include in-store shopping, as well as a large discount-chain style of store, with up to 40,000 square feet of space. Amazon told CNET that it has no plans to build the latter model of store, though it didn’t seem to comment on the drive-through plans. The Journal reports that two of those stores will be ready “within the next few weeks.”
Update December 8th, 5:25PM ET: This story has been updated with comment from The Wall Street Journal.