With the grand opening of the Amazon Go mini-mart in Seattle on January 22nd, the world was introduced to what the eCommerce titan sees as the future of retail grocery shopping. As complicated and competitive the grocery industry has become, both online and on the street, Amazon's premise is very simple: Speed and Convenience.
"Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)"
At first sight, Amazon Go seems like a sure bet to help retail catch up to the fast paced lifestyles of both today and of the future. The core of Amazon Go's proposition lies in the customer app that is tied to your Amazon account. The shopper scans a QR code at turnstiles placed near the entrance of the store. Any item picked up is added to a virtual cart while any item put back upon the shelf is deleted from the cart. Once you're done shopping, you can waltz right out of the store and avoid any lines or the exchanging of pleasantries with a cashier. Your Amazon account is billed before you step back into the hustle and bustle from which you came.
Pretty straightforward and not too complicated except, of course, that is not the case. As Harvard Business Review points out, Amazon will be facing a grocery industry that is paved with innovative technologies that failed to be of real benefit to both customers and stores. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID), Self-Checkout, Electronic Shelf Labels, and Mobile Payments have all fallen short of meeting the customer/retail mutually beneficial criteria.
Even more, there are socioeconomic issues tied to this technology including the potential net job loss and people with low incomes not having the required resources such as credit cards, Amazon accounts, smart phones, etc. And will food stamps (SNAP) be included in the near future?
And then there is the big question of security and privacy that is always a concern with these new lifestyle technologies.
While it seems to be like it could be another successful venture for Amazon that will reshape the retail grocery industry and how we purchase, there are still plenty of everyday issues that Amazon Go will need to address.