Amazon unveiled the store last December, opening it to employees only as it beta-tested the technology before allowing the general public to shop there. That grand opening was supposed to happen in the beginning of this year, but by the end of March Amazon said that technical challenges had caused it to delay the opening indefinitely. According to The Wall Street Journal, the technology ran into trouble when more than 20 people were in the store, or when customers did not replace an item in the spot they took it from.
Since then, there’s been little news on the store, and the Amazon Go website says it’s still only open to employees in its beta program.
At the time of its launch, many expected that Amazon Go would be the template for the company’s expansion into groceries, as such technology would give it a decided advantage over the competition. However, something happened to redirect that narrative.
Amazon made its blockbuster $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, a move that may have been partly motivated by the struggles with Amazon Go — the two parties didn’t start discussing a deal until April. With that move, Amazon’s focus on groceries clearly rests with Whole Foods rather than Amazon Go, and the recent announcement that Whole Foods is planning to hire 6,000 more people shows that old-fashioned manpower and not automation will be the driving force behind Amazon’s expansion into groceries through Whole Foods.