Amazon Go heads to suburbs, opens in Mill Creek

MILL CREEK – Kombucha on tap. Avocado toast made to order. Frozen yogurt with a topping bar. And, of course, a place to return Amazon packages.

Welcome to Amazon Go’s first foray into the “burbs”.

Amazon opened the Mill Creek convenience store on Tuesday, part of an effort to reach customers closer to home by moving into suburban neighborhoods and expand its selection by adding more drinks, more food and more household items to its list of 1,300 products.

“At Amazon Go, we aim to reinvent convenience,” said Ayesha Harper, a 14-year-old Amazon veteran who now runs Amazon Convenience, the company’s division that includes its Amazon Go stores and its Amazon grocery brand. Kitchen.

Preparing for the opening of Mill Creek, Harper said most of her days were spent deciding what would “delight” customers the most and trying the food and drink options to help make that decision, from grilled baguettes with pomegranate kombucha turkey pesto.

Amazon announced plans in January to launch a new Amazon Go store format this year, offering the high-tech checkout experience that’s common in its convenience stores, but hoping to reach more customers by moving closer to at their home. The 6,150 square foot location in Mill Creek is the first test of this format and Amazon plans to open a second location in the Los Angeles area later this year.

In Snohomish County, 3,250 square feet of the store is devoted to the front of the house, or the part where customers shop and place their lunch order. That’s bigger than most Amazon Go stores, which range in size from 450 to 2,700 square feet.

In addition to its convenience stores, Amazon’s grocery division includes grocery stores Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market, which the company acquired in 2017. The official opening of Amazon Go comes after Amazon announced in March that it would close its bookstores, electronics stores and malls. kiosks, planning to redirect its efforts to groceries.

“We remain committed to creating great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies,” Amazon said after the announcement. “And we are working closely with our relevant employees to help them find new roles within Amazon.”

Amazon’s physical retail sales accounted for about 3% of sales in the quarter ending Dec. 31. It generated $4.69 billion in revenue from its physical footprint, mostly from Whole Foods.

Like most Amazon Go stores, the Mill Creek site features Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, the system that allows customers to skip the line when shopping. On Monday, before the store opens, Harper demonstrated how customers can enter the store using their palm, a code on their phone or their credit card. Once through the turnstile, a network of cameras and sensors keep track of what they enter and leave their “virtual cart” and debit their account after they leave.

“The idea behind this technology was that it would fade into the background as customers shopped. You’re not supposed to notice,” Harper said. “It’s really designed to get you back to your day.”

Built in a new development with a neighboring teriyaki restaurant, wine bar, and apartment building, the Mill Creek location marks the eighth Amazon Go store in the Seattle area.

Amazon did not disclose the cost of the store or the time it took to build it. California-based Vintage Housing developed the property, according to a company spokesperson.

In addition to kombucha taps, the new Amazon Go offers customers household items such as pet food, motor oil, Ziploc bags and Clorox wipes. It is also the first Amazon Go store to offer freshly brewed coffee, four flavors of ICEE slushies, and a 30-course menu prepared to order by a team of in-house chefs.

Harper did not reveal how many employees worked on the culinary side of the Amazon Go store, or how many people the store employed. The workers are a mix of new hires and transfers from other Amazon locations, she said.

Amazon Go employees earn an average of $17 to $19 per hour, according to Glassdoor. A job posting for the Mill Creek site on salary.com listed a rate of $18.25 an hour and a signing bonus of $1,500 that expired in early April.

As Amazon expands its grocery footprint, a group of workers at an Amazon Fresh store in the Central District are organizing to draw attention to working conditions at Amazon outlets, calling the company to raise wages, change attendance policies and provide chairs for cashiers.

The grocers announced they had formed an independent union earlier this year, just months before Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island successfully formed their own union.

The Mill Creek Amazon Go store has many of the staples that any shopper would expect to see: Starbucks coffee, Doritos and Lays potato chips, and Lunchables.

But it also offers its customers Amazon’s own brand, from chicken Caesar wraps to chicken tortilla soup to “take-out and bake” pizzas. The shelves feature Amazon’s Aplenty brand for snacks and crisps as well as its Cursive brand for wine.

The new store follows an orange color scheme and features large block letters announcing what customers can expect in different parts of the store. An area that offers, as Harper put it, “in a pinch groceries” like butter and eggs, had a sign that said “The Fridge” and above the kitchen to order is a sign indicating “Let’s eat”.

“Mill Creek is kind of in our backyard,” Harper said Monday, preparing for the grand opening. “We often like to start new things close to home.”