The 12th Amazon Go store nationwide has opened in New York City, and unlike the other locations, this one will accept cash.
Providing a payment option for cash-carrying customers is a departure from the franchise’s original goal, which was to do away with the checkout process entirely. At Amazon Go locations, customers are able to walk in, pick out items and walk out—all without interacting with a store associate, or even going through a self-checkout process. They simply have to download the Amazon Go app, and scan a QR code at a turnstile-type fixture upon entering the store.
The convenience of the cashless philosophy has been tempered by legislative challenges, however. The no-cash policy has come under fire from lawmakers for being inherently classist, as many U.S. consumers are unbanked and conduct their business in cash, instead of using a debit or credit card. New York City and a handful of other cities, including Washington D.C. and San Francisco, are considering bans on cashless stores. Philadelphia and New Jersey have already implemented cashless bans, barring Amazon Go from opening cashless stores in those locations.
These recent troubles have Amazon Go rethinking its strategy, and the company announced in April that all of its stores will soon begin accepting cash.
New York’s new Amazon Go store reportedly spans 1,300 square feet, and is located in lower Manhattan’s Brookfield Place. The surprise opening of the store had dozens of curious and excited customers lining up for salads and sandwiches on Tuesday. The company’s other 11 Go stores are in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, but Amazon has been vocal about expanding to 3,000 locations across major cities over the next few years.
Still, the vision of a completely cashless system seems to be stalling for Amazon Go. The philosophy behind the franchise (and arguably, the thing that distinguishes it from any other quick takeout lunch spot) could become a legislative Achilles heel. With lawmakers standing in the way of fulfilling the cashless vision, Amazon Go is now being forced to hybridize the business model that it hoped would set it apart.