Hey, I'm Dan! I invest in startups at Madrona and write the DL, a weekly newsletter about tech in the Pacific Northwest

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The empty stores of the future

Last week, Amazon announced they are going to start selling Amazon Go’s “Just Walk Out” technology to third parties, and the first retailer to roll it out will be CIBO Express in Newark Airport. I love the Go stores, so I’m excited to see more stores adopting this technology.


From a strategic perspective, however, it’s interesting that Amazon is selling this technology to others vs. deploying it in their own stores. Looking at some hints on their website, it looks like it’s part of the Amazon Services group, which includes Fulfillment by Amazon, Advertising, and Amazon Pay.


We’ll see how successful Amazon is at signing up large customers while simultaneously competing with them. If Amazon “wins” and becomes the largest checkout and payments provider for retailers, they would become the gateway for a massive amount of customer and spend data. If you’re the head of strategy at Walmart or Kroger, you definitely don’t want that.


Either way, this market is going to be a really big deal. There has been a ton of media coverage around autonomous vehicles and lost jobs for drivers, but cashier is the third largest occupation in the US, so automated checkout is going to have an equally large impact, and the tech is much further along.


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