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Costco claims it's had a version of Amazon's futuristic grocery store for 20 years

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Ben Gallagher
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Amazon announced its next big push into brick-and-mortar retail on Monday.At Amazon Go, a store first scheduled to open in Seattle next year, the company says shoppers will be able to walk in, pick up their groceries, and walk right out the door.

Through an app, the products will be automatically added to a digital cart and billed to the shoppers' Amazon account when they leave.But Costco says it beat Amazon to this concept two decades ago.

"In terms of scan-and-go, honestly we've had a version of scan-and-go literally 20 years ago," Richard Galanti, the chief financial officer, said Wednesday during Costco's third-quarter earnings call.

"A member would walk in, get an RF gun, radio frequency device, walk around, scan their own items, come up to the front, hand that thing to the cashier, and the scanner, and they print out a receipt.

"It's not the same thing, and it's far less efficient than what Amazon is introducing, by Galanti's own disclosure.But at the very least, it previewed what was to come.

And just three days after the announcement of Amazon Go, analysts wanted to know how Costco would respond.After earning the lion's share of e-commerce sales, Amazon is now coming for retailers' core business, with reported plans to build up to 2,000 stores in the next decade.

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Ben Gallagher
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