Amazon’s Influence Increases

Nathan Kolodney, Contributing Writer

After a decade-long stint of emptiness, the large property on Carl Barron Plaza has been bought by Amazon. Amazon intends to spend almost half a million dollars renovating this 3,500-square-foot building to create a merchandise pick-up store in the heart of Central Square.

This building sits on the busy intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and River Street and is a prime location for a consumer goods store, like the one Amazon intends to build. The property called One Central Square did this once before, by an AT&T store over ten years ago.

Amazon has started building increasing amounts of physical stores with a variety of different purposes including merchandise pick-up, cashierless convenience stores and bookstores. These shops, which are called “Amazon Go” stores, have helped Amazon bridge the gap from online to brick-and-mortar retail. “I like the idea of employees in a store to have interaction with and ask questions to,” said CRLS math teacher Doug McGlathery, addressing the new store’s benefits.

I like the idea of employees in a store to have interaction with and ask questions to.”

Miriam Alvarez-Rosenblum
These cashierless stores may seem confusing, but the technology behind it is consumer-accessible. Customers who have an account are able to sign into the Amazon Go app and scan a unique barcode for their account when they walk into the store. Then, customers can take whatever items they desire and leave the store, without the hassle of standing in a checkout line.

Amazon’s “Walk Out” technology tracks every item in the store, and when someone leaves the store with an item, their Amazon account is charged for it automatically. Amazon sends the customer an electronic receipt moments after they leave the store, and the process is over.

Miriam Alvarez-Rosenblum
“It will definitely make shopping more efficient,” began junior Martino Boni-Beadle. “But, like a lot of new technology, I doubt it will be accessible to a lot of people.”

The renovations of the building on Carl Barron Plaza are not set to commence until 2020, but Amazon Go stores have already been established around the country over the past few months.

Critics of this new initiative by Amazon say these stores are as much of an advertisement campaign for Amazon as they are a convenient way to buy different forms of merchandise.

Others, like sophomore Sekai Carr, target the issue of unemployment: “I think it’s cool, but I’m against it because it could be taking jobs away,” he explained.

Cambridge residents will have to wait and see over the next few years if the critics are right, or if Amazon Go will add a new way of shopping to the Central Square consumer experience.

This piece also appears in our February print edition.