Last year, I noticed that a new Amazon store had opened near me — not Amazon Fresh, or that weird Amazon 4-Star experiment that crashed and burned, but a small convenience store that you entered by scanning your Amazon app. It took a while to head over, but I finally went. I've been to Amazon Fresh, so I know the whole scanning drill, but this tiny store still surprised me.
What's the Amazon Go Store Like?
Since Amazon Go is a convenience store, I expected it to be pretty much a 7-Eleven. But this place didn't have the scary, constantly spinning hot dog rotisserie or glum employee behind the counter. There were employees on hand to help you figure out how to get in — open the Amazon app, select In-Store Code, then scan your phone until the bar swings open — they were smiling and happy to help.
There was also a deal offering Amazon members a free coffee or espresso, which could mean (as the friendly employee explained to me) anything that came out of the coffee or espresso machines in 12- or 16-ounces, including lattes with flavors and double shots. Not bad.
What's In an Amazon Go Store?
Once I got past the free coffee, I looked around the store, which was spotlessly clean. There were plenty of options, from chips to Sour Patch gummies to fresh food that looked pretty good, slushies (any size $1), individual pizzas, breakfast sandwiches, and a wine section that was carefully hidden from the main floor.
While I wouldn't get sushi from 7-Eleven, what Amazon Go had was from the same Blue Wild brand that Amazon Fresh stocks, so I didn't turn up my nose. The buy-2-get-$4-off special didn't hurt, either. And, because it was Amazon, there was a place to drop returns as well as lockers for deliveries.
What Made the Amazon Go Store Different?
I had wondered why this location looked like a small, boxy prison, as looking inside from the street wasn't really an option. But once inside, it struck me that any light streaming in from outdoors would likely interfere with the web of cameras hanging from the ceiling to track your every movement. While this made it possible for Amazon Go to be truly grab-and-go, eliminating the need for checking out, it was a little unnerving knowing there was a very obvious eye in the sky.
Is the Amazon Go Store Worth It?
I'm not a big convenience-store fan, but I might make an exception for Amazon Go. While it was small, it had a decent selection of items worth grabbing for lunch or a quick bite, and there is something fun about feeling as if you're stealing as you leave (but trust me, that receipt will end up in your account).
I did also realize that, while entering requires either a credit card or an Amazon app on your cell phone, that means fewer people wandering the store aimlessly hoping for five-fingered discounts, as seems to be the case at my local 7-Eleven.
While my local Amazon Go store is long past any opening-day specials, the prices for most of the better-than-7-Eleven items were surprisingly low, and there were a number of deals, including a 10% off your entire visit QR code, a $5 oven-toasted sandwich deal, and $3 breakfast sandwich deal. Given current inflation rates, Amazon Go seemed to be a good place to snag bargain-priced meals, instead of someplace trapping you with a convenience upcharge.
Where Can I Find an Amazon Go Store?
Amazon Go locations haven't exactly popped up around the country. Right now you can find a few in California, more in the Seattle area, some in Chicago, and some in New York for a total of 23. While 7-Eleven isn't going to see these as much of a threat, the chain may want to take notes. The lack of sticky floors, the fresh food that actually looked like it hadn't been reheated for hours and possibly days, and the cheerful staff made Amazon Go a big step up.
Sorry, 7-Eleven, but I'm OK never darkening your sticky floors again.