Amazon is famous for bringing us the latest technology in the world of ecommerce. The online shopping, and now media, giant that started out as an online book store has grown into one of the biggest companies in the world as a result of its endless pursuit of innovation. Developing and employing the latest technology trends online is what has given it an edge. But now Amazon has, for the first time, ventured into bricks-and-mortar retail with the opening of its first ever physical store. While most traditional retailers have moved online as the retail environment has changes with the internet age, there are very few examples of the opposite transition. And given its reputation for being at the forefront of technology, what can customers visiting an Amazon store in the future expect? The new Seattle location provides an insight.
Amazon’s stated ambition of its Amazon Go stores is for queues to be an inconvenience of the past. But how is this achieved? Several years ago supermarkets introduced self-checkouts. We’re all now pretty used to scanning our own items, paying by cash or card and then leaving the shop. We’re also pretty used to more often than not being forced to call for assistance as something is not going perfectly smoothly.
Amazon’s new system goes one better – there are not checkouts whatsoever, self-operated or otherwise. When a customer enters an Amazon Go shop, the open the app on their phone and scan it on the way in. They then pick up whatever goods they want from the store and just walk out. Some of the first customers have likened the experience to ‘feeling like you’re shoplifting’. Fittingly, the technology is being called ‘Just Walk Out’ by Amazon.
So how is this achieved? Once the app has been scanned, a sophisticated system using GPS, cameras and scanners track what a customer picks up, puts back and, finally, walks out of the store with. These items are then charged directly to a bank card linked to the app and a receipt sent. If a customer is not happy with their purchases, a refund can even be claimed through the app without the item being returned.
The Seattle store is focused on groceries and freshly made ready meals, though ranges of other household items are also available. As the project is rolled out, the range of goods sold in Amazon Go stores can be expected to increase.
Overall, the first customers provided extremely impressed feedback. Hopefully we’ll also see the first Amazon Go shop in the UK in the not too distant future so we see the latest technology in the world of physical retail, brought to us be the leader in online retail, for ourselves!