Amazon’s passel of automated convenience stores took some well-deserved criticism for failing to serve cash-carrying customers. The company’s solution was essentially to abandon the Amazon Go concept entirely.
To recap: Amazon Go was supposed to be a frictionless, app-based 711 of sorts. Customers come in, grab what they want, and the store itself automatically tabulates and bills them for the goods they walked out with—no human intervention required.
But of course, not everyone has the ability to link their bank account to some smartphone app because, well, not everyone has a bank account. And Amazon, which has been aggressively pursuing unbanked shoppers by potentially creating its own checking accounts, should have known better. It made a quick about-face last month, assuring the press in the most frustrating way possible that yes, cash would soon be an option in Go stores.
When asked if Go’s future would resemble a typical grocery store self-checkout or if Amazon would hire cashiers to staff a register, the retail, cloud computing, and facial recognition firm wrote back that “Paying cash at Amazon Go will work as you would expect: you’ll check out, pay with cash, and then get your change.” This was, in fact, a lie! Unless your expectation for New York Amazon Go store (the first to become cashless) was imagining the most convoluted middle ground between both of the aforementioned options.
As an Amazon spokesperson explained to Gizmodo in an email today:
“Customers who want to pay with cash can let our entry associate know, and the associate will scan them into the store. The customer will be able to shop the store and then will go to our checkout cart to pay with cash and get a receipt before leaving with their purchased items.”
So halfway between an Apple store and an urgent care office, where employees presumably carry change on them at all times like a city bus driver. Weird! Definitely would not have been my first choice—but hey, I’m also not the business genius who’s so good at moneying that guy-famous-for-being-wealthy Warren Buffet literally wants my blood coursing through his decrepit veins.