On 18 January, Amazon unveiled the newest iteration of its Go stores: a “multimission” convenience store suitable for the suburbs, with upscale food, possibly with wines and craft beers, and lounges with workstations and USB ports.
Customers will need an Amazon app on their phones to enter the store. They can drop their purchases in a bag and then walk out without having the inconvenience of dealing with a cashier. The store’s technology will tote up their purchase amounts and bill their credit cards.
The company plans to open its first such store in Mill Creek, Wash., later this year and another one in Los Angeles at some future time.
The company has pondered opening as many as 6,000 of the suburban sites and is considering selling gas at them as well. British oil giant BP had contacted Amazon about installing and operating gas pumps at Go stores but the discussions ended without a deal.
An internal Amazon planning document suggested starting with five to 15 stores over two years to test ideas and work out bugs and said that selling fuel “would help a lot,” Business Insider reported.
People buy gas not by brand loyalty but by proximity and convenience, the document noted, and said Amazon could gain extra revenue from ad screens on gas pumps.
Amazon also recently announced plans to launch clothing stores named “Amazon Style,” also cashierless, and offering apparel ranging from cheap t-shirts to four-figure fashion.
Amazon also has opened physical small-format, automated convenience stores, “4-Star” stores stocked with home goods, toys, electronics, and other sundries, and a growing collection of grocery stores under the “Fresh” name.
It also owns the Whole Foods supermarket chain.
TRENDPOST: Fewer and fewer companies—Amazon, private equity firms, oil and drug giants—are coming to own and control more and more of the U.S. and global economies.
In the U.S., antitrust laws and enforcement are lax and not suited to the new world of Bigs; in emerging markets, governments welcome the influx of cash and jobs.
Bigs will continue to take more and more until popular uprisings force lawmakers to rein them in, a challenge made greater by the amount of money Bigs have to buy and control politicians.
New York-based Trian Fund Management, with $8.5 billion under its wing, has bought shares in international food conglomerate Unilever after Unilever’s $68-billion bid to buy drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer products division failed, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The number of Unilever shares Trian has bought, and the price paid, were not disclosed.
Unilever has introduced no eye-catching innovations for some time and its sales stagnated through the COVID crisis while competitors did better.
The bid for Glaxo was an attempt to break into the relatively fast-growing health and beauty market to offset slow growth in the food industry, Unilever said, adding that if it had acquired Glaxo, it would have divested other parts of its business.
Both investors and analysts criticized the move. Several past Unilever acquisitions have not panned out. Some observers said the company should energize its existing businesses instead of adding yet another one in which it had limited experience, the WSJ noted.
The effort collapsed when Unilever’s shareholders failed to support it and Glaxo held out for a higher price. Investors have called on the company to dump sluggish brands and re-energize core businesses.
Trian began buying shares of Unilever before the Glaxo misstep.
Nelson Peltz, Trian’s chairman, has been active in food and consumer products businesses before, having held board seats with Procter & Gamble, Mondelez International, and H.J. Heinz.
In the past, Peltz has attempted to break up companies he believed were bloated or underperforming.

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