Amazon.com Inc is looking at bringing its futuristic checkout-free store format to airports in an attempt to win business from hungry, time-pressed travelers, based on public documents and a person familiar with the plan.
The move underscores a company that began as an online bookseller is currently making forays into retail to get a larger share of shoppers’ spending.
For many years, the world’s biggest online retailer has been enlarging Amazon Go, where customers scan their smartphones in a turnstile to enter, cameras identify the things that they take from your shelves. When shoppers are finished, they leave the store and Amazon invoices their credit cards on file.
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Amazon has opened seven of those stores at its hometown Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago: to the public as of January, largely catering to employees in neighboring offices.
Amazon is evaluating top U.S. airports to get new places, based on public records requests to several airport operators.
“The direct for Amazon Go requested a meeting,” read a June 27 email from a technology adviser who supports Los Angeles International, the second-busiest airport in the country, to a concession official.
“Yes. Thanks!” The concessions official replied.
A couple of hundred miles north, in the center of Silicon Valley, an accounts supervisor at Amazon’s cloud unit requested San Jose International Airport for a meeting and referenced Amazon Proceed, as “one of several possibilities we can share.”
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Running in airports will introduce challenges for Amazon Go.
Workers must gain clearances after security checkpoints to staff concessions, and square footage in active sections of an airport could be expensive to lease. Furthermore, many airports are publicly run and need would-be concessionaires to place in public bids for retail space.
If “you really do a deal, it is almost like they go back out and store it,” said Kazuko Morgan, vice chairman at real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield. She was not speaking to Amazon with reference.
“Not only do your terms become public knowledge, somebody can come in at the last hour block one,” she said.
Out of attempting to court, the merchant airports have not stopped. In September, a concessions director for Dallas Fort Worth International Airport emailed the vice president in charge of Amazon Go, asking for a partnership “on the very first Airport Amazon Go location.”
The airport didn’t immediately comment on whether the concessions supervisor got a response.
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