In a time where brick-and-mortar stores are doing everything they can to counter the convenience of online shopping – floor sensors to track shopper steps, touch-screen dressing room mirrors, and online grocery delivery just to name a few – Amazon is celebrating another launch into the physical retail world. But of course, they’re doing it with a twist.
At the end of 2016 we reported on the soft launch of Amazon’s newest grocery store concept, Amazon Go, where shoppers scan their smartphone upon entering the retail space and the company’s technology tracks the customer’s cart virtually as they shop. Shoppers then simply walk out of the store and within minutes receive a receipt with details of their purchase, with all products charged to their Amazon account. Sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, even coming from the brain of Jeff Bezos, doesn’t it? The cashier-less store had issues back in March, when the technology failed to handle more than 20 people in the store at one time and had problems tracking products being moved. The complications with the technology Amazon has dubbed “Just Walk Out” caused a delay in the official opening of the store. That is, until today.
Image via NPR
Amazon Go has officially opened its doors to their 1,800 square foot space in their hometown of Seattle, and they’re ready for the general public to give it a go (see what I did there?). Starting today, consumers can experience the luxury of being able to grocery shop without the long checkout lines – a huge advantage online stores have over brick-and-mortar. There is also the convenience of never having to worry about forgetting your wallet at home (because we all know that happens more times than we’d like to admit), and the ease of not having to unload your items onto a grocery belt while the cashier judges your one-too-many boxes of mac and cheese. Instead, the seamless experience allows consumer’s to walk through turn-style like gates, grab the product they need, and walk out… almost like they shoplifted.
Yet there are still traditional aspects of the store that technology can’t replicate, and that consumer’s will always love about the traditional grocery experience. For those wary of relying on technology, Amazon has stocked the store with associates to help with any issues shoppers may face. They are also there to restock the shelves and help customers find what products they’re looking for. Next door is also a kitchen where chefs are on hand to prepare meals that can be purchased, and since even Amazon can’t skirt the law, an associate waits in the alcohol aisle to check I.D.s.
From an outsider’s perspective, Amazon Go may have struck the perfect balance between traditional perks we love about grocery stores and the convenience of online shopping. Time will only tell if Amazon can keep that balance going, where they plan on taking this concept next, or if other retailers like Walmart plan to progress with their technology plans. Until then, we’ll have to keep reminding ourselves not to forget our wallets at home.