retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Seattle Times reports that Amazon is donating foodservice equipment and physical space on its South Lake Union campus in Seattle to a nonprofit organization called FareStart that is designed to teach "hospitality-industry skills to people who’ve faced barriers to employment — those with a criminal record, a history of drug addiction or homelessness."

According to the story, Amazon is giving FareStart 25,000 square feet for five new eateries, "which will be open to the public. One will be a full-service restaurant, three will be fast-casual outlets, and there will be a coffee shop, too. There will also be a catering space and training classrooms."

As I pointed out here recently, one of the notable things about the Amazon Go format is that there seems to be a big emphasis on in-store food prep, with cooks and chefs working right in the front window where they can be easily seen from the street. While my first thought was that this seemed to be outside Amazon's basic skill set, I'm beginning to wonder the extent of its interest in foodservice. Maybe it is greater than I thought...


Yahoo Finance has a story about FreshDirect, which began in the e-grocery business back in 1999 and continues to expand - in part because, as CEO/co-founder Jason Ackerman says, the company self-identifies as a "food-tech company," not as an online grocer.

"Tech drives innovation at FreshDirect by predicting customers’ food preferences on certain days and at different times (for example, milk on Monday mornings or wine on Saturday nights)," the story says. "The company is also building a state-of-the-art automated warehouse in the Bronx, New York.

"Yet, with all of that said, Ackerman does not see robots taking over warehouse or delivery jobs anytime soon. And FreshDirect will still have people slicing deli meat and cutting carrots."

“I do not see robots taking over for our chefs," Ackerman says.
KC's View: