Amazon Go Reveals ‘Grab-n-Go’ Concept to Retail
On January 22, the automated retail store, Amazon Go, opened their doors to the public debuting its cutting edge “Just Walk Out” technology with no cashiers, registers or check-out lines. Located in Seattle Washington, patrons simply grab what they want off the shelves and leave. The store utilizes “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning” to accurately track what was taken and charge the user’s Amazon Go account. With a wide range of groceries and fresh food to choose from, all retail shoppers need is an Amazon account and the free Amazon Go app available on iOS and Android to start shopping. The shopping experience went smoothly indoors but outside, lines of people wrapped around the 7th Street building throughout the day. Amazon’s automated retail shop is open M-F from 7 A.M. to 9 P.M.
What does Amazon Go Mean for the Future of Retail?
BI Intelligence reported that mobile strategies will be the most important asset for a retailer’s success in the future. Growing an additional $200 billion year-over-year, retail shopping in the U.S. will make an estimated $5.5 trillion in 2020. Although an overwhelming amount of people prefer traditional retail shopping over e-commerce, the latter is growing 4 times faster than in-store retail. The majority of purchases are made through desktops but mobile sales are driving the most growth. In fact, mobile purchases will soon account for almost half of U.S. e-commerce sales. Even though users spend 85% on mobile apps while on their phones, the slow loading times of many applications cause nearly 50% of purchases to be made on mobile web browsers. The top priority for retailers is mastering e-commerce but less than 40% plan to increase their investment.
The Downsides of Robotic Retailers
Retail Job Loss
The most talked about threat is job reduction and automated technology will leave many employees without work. Cornerstone Capital Group predicts that technology such as AI, machine learning and robotics will cut the retail work sector of 16 million people by nearly 40% over the next decade. That’s a total of 6-7.5 million jobs with cashiers probably being first to get the boot.
Amazon Go Lacks Privacy for Shoppers
Some customers may not dig being constantly watched while shopping. In what Tech Crunch called “ubiquitous personal surveillance,” customers can’t avoid being monitored by the store’s state of the art camera systems. Using visual cues rather than facial recognition, Amazon Go has designed an automated retailer that keeps an eye on everything with impeccable accuracy. However, some people aren’t willing to sacrifice their privacy just to have a quicker shopping experience.
Technology Vulnerable to Hacks
Aside from the usual malfunctioning hiccups that comes with technology, these systems are at a much higher risk of cyber terrorism. In a previous blog, The Scope Weekly discussed the overwhelming consensus from policymakers and tech experts that cyber defense is now the biggest threat to national security. Additionally, many retailers are largely unprepared for dealing with its complexity and are failing to implement effective strategies.
Walmart and Kroger Also Want to Automate Retail Experience
The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, is currently testing their “Scan & Go” mobile app that allows customers to pay as they shop by scanning designated items. When finished shopping, visitors leave out the mobile express line with no questions asked. Customers can see the price of products by scanning them and receive the final amount before checking out. Only in select markets including Dallas-Fort Worth, Orlando, and Arkansas, Walmart plans to expand into 33 more states totaling 200 stores nationwide. Their Scan & Go technology is also available at all Sam’s Club retailers across the U.S.
Kroger Co is also rolling out a nearly identical technology called “Scan, Bag, Go” that lets customers scan bar codes on items as they shop. Patrons could scan with either the store’s handheld scanners or the mobile app. Shoppers than go through self-checkout kiosks where their items are charged upon leaving. Over time, Kroger plans to discontinue going through self-checkout and customers will be able to pay through the app automatically.
The Future of Retail will be Faster & More Convenient, Amazon Go is just the Start
It’s hard to foresee how much more convenient it can become for customers to simplify their shopping experiences. With Amazon serving over 300 million customers, Amazon Go is a long-anticipated addition that is signaling a disruption in the retail industry. So much so that Walmart and Kroger have created their own products to compete in the automated shopping place. Still, very few retailers understand the significance of mobile experiences and e-commerce for sustaining their business. Now we’ll have to wait and hear the feedback from Amazon’s competitors on how their scan and go experiences are working for shoppers.
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