23 January 2018

EDITORIAL - Amazon Go Challenges Others to Adapt, Adopt and Change

One Hundred Years of Retailing - Can We Deliver a More Satisfying  Customer Experience 

Image result for image of general store
General Store 1917 -  Harris and Ewing
"Hello Mrs. Smith, what can we help you with today," asks the proprietor of this modern, well stocked, general store of 1917. 

We can see most items organized neatly behind the counter, we can imagine a picker pole for reaching the high shelves and see the crates of things customers could select on the floor. 

In fact, some of us can still remember general stores in the small rural communities where we grew up. What I remember most is staff who were happy to see me, knew my name, focused on my need and were always ready to provide friendly advice - not just pushing myriad items through scanners while the clock ticks off the minutes left in their shift. 

Over the past hundred years, we have watched as retailers developed efficient operations and high volume discounting, while subject matter expertise dwindled and valuable personal interactions with customers left the scene.

The launch of the first Amazon Go store in Seattle, may deliver a new client experience that returns high value exchanges to the retail environment and delivers regular loyal patrons. Customers can purchase all the things they want effortlessly, in a process called 'Just Walk Out Shopping'. While technology takes care of the customer need automatically, Amazon's in store associates can focus on providing the experience customers desire.

Observers suggest that Amazon's win in retail has been associated with four things:
  • Discoverability (find what you want, when you want it);
  • Good prices (inventory turns); 
  • Fast delivery (automated order processing, robotics and infrastructure); and the big one,
  • Customer satisfaction (customer feedback with quick response).
The frequently asked questions on the Amazon Go web page provided  answers to questions we've heard:

Do you have any people working in the store?
Yes. Our great team of associates works in both the kitchen and the store to prep ingredients, make our ready-to-eat food, stock shelves, and help customers. (Need a product recommendation? Ask an associate!)

Amazon Go Staff Prepping Ready to Eat
How does Amazon Go work?
Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll send you a receipt and charge your Amazon account.

What can I buy at Amazon Go?
We offer delicious ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made by our chefs and favorite local kitchens and bakeries. Our selection of grocery essentials ranges from staples like bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates. For a quick home-cooked dinner, pick up one of our chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, with all the ingredients you need to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.

How do I shop at Amazon Go?
All you need is an Amazon account, the free Amazon Go app, and a recent-generation iPhone or Android phone. You can find the Amazon Go app on the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Appstore. When you arrive, use the app to enter the store, then feel free to put your phone away—you don’t need it to shop. Then just browse and shop like you would at any other store. Once you’re done shopping, you’re on your way! No lines, no checkout.

How big is the store?
Our roughly 1,800 square feet of retail space is conveniently compact so busy customers can get in and out fast.

Why did you build Amazon Go?
We asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go? Our answer to those questions is Amazon Go and Just Walk Out Shopping.

The Amazon Go Experience 

It seems like the Amazon Go launch in Seattle this week has thrown down the gauntlet to other retailers. If they accept the challenge to Adapt, Adopt and Change, what response can be expected?

An article by Michelle Evans, a Retail and Technology analyst at Euromonitor, provides an overview of her discoveries at a recent gathering of retailers. She discovered neat tactics, strategies and technologies are coming to encourage a more satisfying customer experience in other retail settings. 

Amazon Go Location in Seattle

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