With Amazon’s recent forays into the world of brick-and-mortar, it had to be expected that sooner or later they’d apply their technological acumen to the process and disrupt the shopping experience.
Disrupting the Check-out Experience
That disruption appears to be on its way, according to Amazon representatives at last week’s ShopTalk Sunday, in the form of Amazon Go, a retail initiative that will bring purchasing friction down to almost zero, allowing customers to simply pick up their purchases and walk out of the store. Their purchases will be detected, added to a virtual shopping cart, and automatically debited from a linked Amazon account once they leave.
The goal, the Amazon executives said, is for the technology to lay almost dormant in the background, initiating when necessary almost unbeknownst to shoppers. The company acknowledges that shopping at physical retail locations is “fantastic,” according to Retail Dive, but the e-commerce giant is looking to eliminate the check-out process, which it sees as the biggest pain point for brick-and-mortar shoppers.
The concept, as of now, is limited to a test store in Seattle, where it touts the benefits of no checkout required, calling it “the world’s most advanced shopping technology” and promising no lines to wait in, ever.
Test Bed Amazon Go Store is Open for Business in Seattle
The Amazon Go Seattle location offers a variety of ready-made meal options, snacks and other groceries. Customers entering the store fire up the app, then put their phone back in their pocket, no further action required except to fill up your bag and walk away. Amazon says the store has associates to prepare meals, stock shelves and offer product recommendations, but there are no lines of shoppers waiting to make their purchases.
This so-called “walk out” technology could be implemented in a multitude of retail environments where grabbing your purchases without waiting to be rung up could be a benefit. Picture subway platforms where commuters can pick up a quick bite to eat or an umbrella and simply walk away to catch their train. Or at airports, where time is typically of the essence for harried travelers. Another potential use case cited by Retail Dive is at a Starbucks, where customers could choose items from the grab and go case and leave the store with their items and coffee, avoiding the line entirely.
As of now, according to Retail Dive, Amazon is not actively implementing the technology or licensing it to other brands. There are apparently also no immediate plans to introduce the technology to Amazon-owned Whole Foods Markets yet, either. But knowing Amazon, once the technology is perfected, it’s likely we’ll see this rolled out on a big scale, and when that happens, the check-out line could be changed forever.
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