In case you missed it, Amazon, Inc. is launching a new store in Seattle that aims to streamline the in-store shopping experience, and is poised to shake up the market. Called Amazon Go, shoppers browse for items they want and then walk out of the store without dealing with the hassle of the checkout process.
Amazon will use a combination of sensors and artificial intelligence to detect what is purchased and then simply charge the shopper’s preferred payment method. “The Amazon Go store, at roughly 1,800 square feet in downtown Seattle, resembles a convenience store-format in a video Amazon released Monday. It features artificial intelligence-powered technology that eliminates checkouts, cash registers and lines,” the WSJ reports. “Instead, customers scan their phone on a kiosk as they walk in, and Amazon automatically determines what items customers take from the shelves. After leaving the store, Amazon charges their account for the items and sends a receipt.”
The concept represents an exciting new trend in how consumers think about the shopping experience. “Time” is the new value proposition for the consumer. In today’s busy world, time is a precious commodity. Retailers creating frictionless shopping experiences and “rewarding” the customer with the return of “time” is a trend we think will continue to evolve.
Another example of in-store shopping simplification is the launch of Walmart Pay. With this program, payment initiates at the beginning of the transaction – not the end. Customers use the Walmart Pay app to initiate the payment process, bag their items, and then walk out the store without any closing sign-off of the transaction. The experience feels faster to the shopper, even if the actual elapsed time is approximately the same.
The other element of the Amazon Go Store is the concept of “trust.” Amazon Go is communicating to their consumer an explicit statement of trust that the shopper is honestly paying for the items purchased. Yes, there is technology to prevent theft and fraud, but the experience to the shopper is one of “trust.” In today’s crowded world, where shoppers can feel like just a number, the communication of trust changes that dynamic – conveying the message of a relationship between the company and the customer.
“Time” and “trust” are two new elements the retailer can bring to bear in redefining the shopping experience. It is perhaps a bit ironic that Amazon – the brand that massively displaced brick & mortar – is now redefining the brick & mortar experience in retail. It will be interesting to see how many traditional retailers fast follow the Amazon Go model in the next 12 months.