Why Amazon’s Convenience Store Test Is Worth Notice

Dec 06, 2016

There it goes again. Amazon, the most disruptive retailer since Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward hit the scene is noodling again on something new. It’s called Amazon Go, a convenience-store-sized shop staffed by robots and sensors rather than humans.

As with much of what Amazon does, this is only a test. Its current Amazon Go store in Seattle is only open to employees for now.

But Amazon is like a computer virus: It probes, it examines, it learns. And then it attacks. The company announced Amazon Go with a video, and Fortune’s Andrew Nusca and Robert Hackett also produced a video discussing the move.

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I’m with Nusca, who argues that Amazon @amazon(amzn) is a master at building on top of its existing infrastructure. Just as Amazon Web Services was able to jumpstart itself by being its own best customer, Amazon’s massive distribution network is a natural partner to a chain of convenience stores.

Amazon doesn’t succeed at everything it does. (Think: Fire Phone.) Nor does it do everything quickly. It has been investigating the grocery business for years without achieving the dominance it has in online commerce. But when Amazon tries something new, it is worth paying attention.

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