Amazon Considers Opening Stores in Airports

December 13, 2018

While airports can be tense places at any time of year, they’re especially stressful during the holiday season. As crowds of travelers rush from security checkpoints to their gates, doing something as simple as buying a magazine or a bite to eat can become nearly impossible. That’s why Amazon is reportedly looking to expand its line of Amazon Go brick and mortar stores into airports. At these cashier-free retail outlets, customers simply grab items they want off the shelves and walk out the door.

This might seem like shoplifting, but it’s actually part of a sophisticated checkout system that Amazon developed a few years ago. First consumers scan their smartphones at a turnstile located at the front of the store. They then search the aisles for products as cameras and sensors track their every move, including which items they pick up and put back. Once they’re done, customers simply head out through the turnstiles to generate a receipt as well as a “trip timer” that tells them how much time they spent shopping.

According to insiders, Amazon executives think that this in-and-out business model would work perfectly at airports across the nation. “One of the big problems at airports is that [people] are very busy and often very stressed, and there’s a real restriction on time,” said retail expert Neil Saunders. “It’s very interesting Amazon is looking to go there.” Even though travelers often find themselves crunched for time, they still managed to spend more than $1.7 billion at airport newsstands and convenience stores last year. Not only could Amazon improve on that number by saving customers time, but they also could encourage people to shop more by offering lower prices. After all, airport retailers usually markup the prices on their products. But with few employees needed to operate an Amazon Go store, the e-commerce giant can afford to undercut its competition.

Questions:

  1. Why is Amazon looking to expand its line of Amazon Go stores into airports?
  2. Do you think more retailers should set up cashierless stores like Amazon Go? Why or why not?

Source: Rachel Siegel, “Why Amazon Go Could Swoop Into Airport Retail,” The Washington Post, December 12, 2018. Photo by Mk2010.

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