Starbucks and Amazon are opening a store together in New York City, with more to come

Two of Seattle’s retail icons are teaming up on a storefront for the first time.

The first “Pick Up Starbucks with Amazon Go” program opens Thursday in New York City. The space includes a Starbucks counter to take mobile orders; an Amazon Go marketplace that uses the company’s “Just Walk Out” cashless payment system; and a living room with a personal workspace, desk, power outlet and USB port.

Starbucks employees (“partners,” in its jargon) will staff the entire space.

Overall staffing levels will be “very similar” to that of traditional Starbucks locations of relative size, said Kathryn Young, Starbucks senior vice president of global growth and development. In addition to working at the pick-up counter, employees will supplement the Amazon Go marketplace and concierge will greet customers.

Amazon Go marketplace inside the new store. (Starbucks photo)

Just Walk Out, released in Amazon Go Stores in 2018, which allows shoppers to scan a code or their palm as they walk in, then grab items from the shelf and leave without the traditional checkout. It uses scales, cameras and sensors to detect what items shoppers take, automatically charging their accounts once they’ve finished shopping.

Amazon and Starbucks do not integrate their basic checkout or payment systems. Customers will use the Starbucks app and account to place orders for pickup, and the app and Amazon accounts to shop in the marketplace.

The first store was secretly built at a site on 59th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington in Manhattan.

“The store looks really nice. It’s gorgeous,” said Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology. “I’m happy to see how customers react.”

The companies said they are planning a total of at least three Starbucks Pickup stores with Amazon Go over the next year. Also, they don’t go into detail about their long-term plans.

A second store is expected to open next year at the New York Times Building at 40th Street and 8th Avenue.

Amazon and Starbucks did not disclose third place in the United States. In an interview this week, the executives of the two companies did not get involved when GeekWire indicated that Seattle would be the obvious choice.

Notice confirm a recent report by news site Insider, based on internal Amazon documents that show the partnership has been active for more than a year. Amazon and Starbucks executives this week declined to confirm those kinds of details about the origin or background of their partnership.

Lounge inside the new Starbucks Store with Amazon Go. (Starbucks photo)

Since launching Amazon Go convenience stores, Amazon has expanded its “Just Walk Out” technology into its own large-scale Amazon grocery stores and some Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods locations.

The partnership with Starbucks is part of a broader move by Amazon to make the technology available to retailers and other locations, such as stadiums, airports and convention centers. Other people using this technology include Seattle’s Climate Pledge Stadium, and Hudson Nonstop at Chicago Midway International Airport.

Young said Starbucks is driven by customer research that shows that convenience improves human relationships in the classic “third place” between home and work. That is represented by the new in-store lounge.

“The more we work to create things for our customers, the more they can connect,” says Young. “We thought, ‘How do we make the experience as easy as possible that we can, so people have space to live in’? That makes us very excited about the technology that Amazon has to offer.”

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