Everyone’s favorite online retailer is making waves yet again. Industry giant Amazon is expanding beyond e-commerce with cashier-less brick-and-mortar stores. And while this may sound very surprisingly, it actually makes sense.
Even though people have been relying on online shopping more and more, most spending still occurs in physical stores. To capitalize on this potential, Amazon has begun rolling out its very own stores; one of which is Amazon Go. The first Amazon Go store opened in Seattle in January. It was followed by two more Seattle stores and one Chicago store. Based on the success of these four stores thus far, Amazon has plans to roll out 3,000 more Go stores around the country.
Since Amazon always seems to be at the front end of trends, the same goes for its Amazon Go stores. The store has two versions: one that sells prepared foods and snacks, and one that sells a select variety of grocery items, not unlike a convenience store. All Amazon Go stores will employ the same technology to create a completely checkout-free shopping experience.
Revolutionizing traditional retail, Amazon has taken inspiration from the technology used by companies like Uber and Lyft and has adapted it to transform an otherwise ordinary shopping experience. When a customer enters one of the stores, they must scan their Amazon Go app to pass through a turnstile to access the range of products. They pick out all the products they want. Then, instead of waiting in line to pay, they simply leave the store. Cameras and sensors at the stores exit track what products customers exit with and then send charges to each customer’s Amazon account. These stores are designed to provide a completely streamlined shopping experience with no waiting or checkout line hassle.
What does this mean for the customer experience?
If this store model becomes widely adapted, which is seemingly the way of the future, the consumer shopping experience would drastically change. As civilization marches on, humans are using improved technology to increase convenience and spend less time interacting with the people around them. This cashier-less store model is no different.
Amazon Go customers will be able to get what they came for quickly and efficiently, with no hassle. This is the whole point of companies having stores in the first place: to provide consumers what they want or need without complication. However, that is not the only point to stores.
Brick-and-mortar stores act as a touch point for companies to reach consumers on an individual level. These stores, through sales associates, cashiers, and customer service representatives, offer a human element to an otherwise inhuman, impersonal brand.
The Human Element
Without this human element, the landscape of retail could change dramatically. And while the shopping experience could become far more streamlined for consumers, are brands aware of the cost required for using such technology?
While Amazon is at an advantage in this case, as it has always been an e-commerce retailer with little human interaction, other stores should proceed with caution. Since this technology is still so new, no one knows how consumers will respond to it in the long run. And gambling with the human element of your brand to keep up with the latest trends might not be a risk worth taking.