Amazon reportedly began testing the enabling technologies behind its Amazon Go stores in larger spaces to find out how well they would work when in larger store formats, according to a Wall Street Journal story.
The news was attributed to unnamed sources who stated they didn't know if Amazon is planning to use the technology in its Whole Foods stores, but speculated that would be a likely application for it.
Amazon Go stores use a combination of sensors, computer vision technology, artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms to identify items that customers pick up, and make sure they are correctly charged and payments are processed via mobile so that customers can leave stores quickly.
Before Amazon opened its first Amazon Go store in Seattle last January, it tested the enabling technologies of its cashierless concept for months. The company reportedly delayed that store opening due to technology glitches that surfaced in test situations when the store became especially crowded.
Amazon eventually overcame that hurdle, and has opened additional Amazon Go stores in Chicago and San Francisco. The merchandise offerings are, in general, more typical of small convenience stores than large grocery stores. It's a format in which Amazon has been able to assure the quality and reliability of its technology and operations.
A larger space with many more products would make things more complicated, requiring additional testing to make sure performance in a larger space can meet the expectations of Amazon and its customers.
It's not clear exactly what the company has in mind. As it expands Amazon Go stores into new markets and fills out existing markets with more locations, does it want to build larger stores? Or, does it want to take the technology that has worked well in Amazon Go stores and apply it to Whole Food locations?
In September it was reported that the company was thinking of opening 3,000 Amazon Go locations by 2021 in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. Building larger Amazon Go stores would be an intriguing move, allowing Amazon to organically expand on a cashierless store concept and placing it into more direct competition with some smaller grocery store chains and restaurants that may not be ready for such a development.