Amazon has opened an Amazon Go store in New York. Remarkably, it is the first of these cashless neighbourhood stores... where you can pay cash.
For customers without a bank account
Amazon has opened its twelfth Amazon Go store in New York: the concept became world-famous because Amazon was the first Western retailer to succeed in opening physical stores without cash registers. Consumers use their Amazon accounts to enter, cameras and sensors scan the products in their shopping carts and payment is done automatically upon leaving the store.
The idea is not just to make visits to the store quicker, but also to allow for stores without employees behind the registers and even without any staff at all. That ideal is now thwarted by a storm of criticism and even new legislation in the United States. Amazon has been accused of discriminating against people without a bank account, as it made cash payments impossible.
A register after all?
An estimated 8.4 million American households (roughly 6.5 % of the population) do not have a bank account. Because of these people, some states and cities are now taking measures to ban stores that do not accept cash. States like Massachusetts and New Jersey and cities like Philadelphia already demand that stores do accept cash, while New York City and San Francisco are considering similar initiatives.
That is why the new Amazon Go store in New York is the first where customers have the option of paying cash. People who wish to do so can now turn to an employee, who will then scan the items for the customer and process payment through a smartphone. The customer pays the employee directly.
In April, Amazon informed CNBC of its ambitions to add more payment methods to the stores. In the future, customers will be able to go to a counter to pay cash and get a receipt, according to Business Insider. Still, stores will not feature physical registers.