Amazon reportedly plans to close eight Amazon Go convenience stores as part of a larger restructuring of its physical footprint, according to CNBC. The retailer also has delayed the start of the second phase of construction for its second headquarters in Virginia, though it will move into the already-completed buildings soon. Despite some cutbacks, Amazon still is making investments, including spending $200 million on last mile safety.
The affected Go locations include two in New York City, two in Seattle and four in San Francisco. All eight locations will close on April 1, and the ecommerce giant will help affected workers find roles elsewhere in the company.
“Like any physical retailer, we periodically assess our portfolio of stores and make optimization decisions along the way,” said Jessica Martin, Amazon Spokesperson in a statement seen by CNBC. “In this case, we’ve decided to close a small number of Amazon Go stores in Seattle, New York City, and San Francisco. We remain committed to the Amazon Go format, operate more than 20 Amazon Go stores across the U.S., and will continue to learn which locations and features resonate most with customers as we keep evolving our Amazon Go stores.”
Amazon also is delaying the expansion of its second headquarters, in Arlington, Va. New construction was slated to start in Q1 2023, but the groundbreaking has been paused indefinitely, according to The Wall Street Journal. The latest project involves the construction of three 22-story office buildings and is part of overall plans to spend $2.5 billion through 2030 and bring more than 25,000 jobs to the region.
The initial two towers located on the site are nearly completed and workers will begin moving in in June. This space can accommodate more than 14,000 workers; an Amazon spokesman said that this development provides sufficient facilities and the company doesn’t yet need to expand.
While Amazon is cutting back in some areas, it is investing in new technologies that will help it achieve the goals laid out by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy. These initiatives are aimed at improving the safety of its drivers, including by reducing crash frequency and severity — and often with additional sustainability benefits.
One key investment will be equipping Amazon’s middle mile trucking network, which is responsible for shipping packages to and from operations sites before being dispatched for last mile delivery. Tech being added to vehicles includes emergency braking, front-collision warning, stability control, lane-departure warning, side-object detection, adaptive cruise control and speed limiters.
In addition to the vehicles themselves, Amazon is investing in route planning navigation systems and predictive analytics software to better monitor fleet safety. All of this technology is embedded into the retailer’s Relay mobile platform, which connects carriers and drivers to Amazon and provides them with navigation assistance, real-time driver-facing alerts, safety performance summaries and additional safety learning.
Investments in the last mile delivery network include an expansion to in-vehicle camera safety technology, which has been proven to reduce unsafe behavior in real time by reducing driver-controllable safety incidents. The rollout of this software began in 2020, with plans to be in all Amazon-branded vehicles by April 2023, and it has already achieved a 35% reduction in accident rates across Amazon’s network.
Future plans include the introduction of strobing brake light technology in some trailers to provide greater visibility during braking. The technology is currently in pilot mode and has the potential to reduce rear-end collisions by as much as 30%. Amazon also plans to begin deploying a digital side mirror on trucks that will reduce blind spots.
“We’re excited about the progress we’ve made to date and what our continued investments in 2023 will mean as we work to continuously improve in both safety and sustainability,” said Udit Madan, VP of Amazon Transportation in a statement. “We will continue to invest and invent to ensure our trucks, delivery vans, trailers, and drivers are among the safest on the road.”