Amazon, my employer of many years before I founded Zeitgeist Research, has been well known for being the most innovative online retailer. They introduced such approaches as dash buttons and subscribe-and-save, and recently entered the world of brick-and-mortar retail with its launch of bookstores and, now, grocery/convenience stores.
The Seattle-based retailer’s latest development destined to be part of our everyday lives is Amazon Go, a store format that offers prepared meals, salads, sandwiches, bakery items, and snacks. The game changer is that there are no checkout lines and no cashiers; customers simply check in at the entrance with an Amazon app, add items to their shopping baskets, and leave. No line, no register, no cashier, no credit card, no wait time.
How? The store is equipped with sensors and computer vision that allows Amazon to track customers as they move through the retail space, automatically registering what they pick up. As the customer walks out, their Amazon account is charged for what’s in the basket.
The concept will certainly work well, attacking grocery stores (such as Whole Foods, Kroger, and Safeway) as well as convenience stores (Walgreens, CVS, 7-Eleven, etc.). As we have been given a glimpse into the future of the barrier-free shopping experience, I don’t think we are far removed from seeing this approach rolled out to all sorts of transaction based retailers. Most likely the least to be effected by this approach are retail environments with a high degree of consultative sales such as Nordstrom or Apple stores.
Brick-and-mortar retailers will need to adopt to innovative technology approaches, otherwise they will join the fate of Circuit City and Borders.