Amazon’s vision for the future of in-store grocery shopping officially opened for business Monday morning — and it doesn’t include food stamps.
The company’s first Amazon Go store — a heavily branded, 7-Eleven-like store without cashiers — opened to the general public in downtown Seattle. Shoppers simply need an Amazon account, a recent-model smartphone, and the Amazon Go app, which allows them to order food or pick up items off the shelves, and then walk directly out of the store. Algorithms and sensors keep track of what they buy, and their accounts are charged accordingly.
However, the magic of Amazon Go can’t be experienced by everyone. The store does not currently accept food stamps as payment, Amazon spokesperson Kerri Catallozzi confirmed to VICE News (Amazon-owned Whole Foods does, however). This isn’t a total surprise: Amazon Prime only began accepting food stamps last summer, and it introduced a discounted Prime membership for food stamp-using customers. Catallozzi did not say whether or when the Go store would begin accepting food stamps.
The Go store was initially supposed to open last March, but glitches with the checkout technology delayed launch, according to the Wall Street Journal. For years, Amazon has been dancing around the edges of the grocery business — planning thousands of in-store locations across the country, and launching its own online delivery grocery service.
But last June, Amazon spent $13.7 billion to acquire the supermarket chain Whole Foods, which overnight in June made Amazon one of the biggest grocery players nationwide — and possibly changing Amazon Go from being a one-off experiment to laying the blueprint for what Amazon could do with its hundreds of existing Whole Foods locations nationwide.