Operations

Amazon Go looks at ways to let customers use cash

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Amazon’s cashierless Amazon Go concept is exploring ways of accepting cash, an apparent reaction to the spread of proposals outlawing cashless restaurants and retail outlets. 

Amazon Go has been on the forefront of technology-aided efforts to speed service by allowing patrons to take what they want off shelves and simply leave the retail-foodservice hybrid. Cameras in the ceiling and sophisticated analytical software determine what a customer buys and automatically charges the patron’s digital account via a phone app. 

The retail giant confirmed to CSP, retail sister of Restaurant Business, that it is striving to add cash payments as an option to customers who don’t want to pay digitally. Critics of cashless restaurants say those operations discriminate against consumers who lack the income to afford a credit card or smartphone.

A spokesperson did not reveal a timeline for adding a cash payment option.

Currently, 10 Amazon Go units are in operation. The company has revealed plans to develop as many as 3,000 stores. The outlets feature ready-to-eat sandwiches and salads, as well as packaged items readily found in supermarkets.

Philadelphia and New Jersey have outlawed cashless restaurants, calling them discriminatory against the poor. Similar bans are under consideration in New York City, San Francisco and other cities. 

A number of restaurant chains, including Sweetgreen, Starbucks, Shake Shack and Dos Toros, have limited customers’ payment options to credit cards or payments via smartphone “wallets” such as Apple Pay. Prohibiting cash payments eliminates the time needed to count the bills and coins provided by a customer and then count out any change the patrons are due.

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