I’ve been writing a lot about artificial intelligence and how it is disrupting and changing the brand experience for consumers. Amazon just introduced a new grocery store concept that takes the brand experience of shopping to the next level. It has the potential to change how all physical retail shopping is operated in the future.
Amazon imagines the shopping experience to be seamless and “checkout free.” The company has just launched their own grocery store in Seattle, located at 2131 7th Ave. The name of the new grocery brand is Amazon Go. Currently limited to 1,800 square feet of retail space and only open to the company’s employees during the beta program, it is expected to open to the public in early 2017.
The Technology Behind the Brand Experience
Amazon is relentless when it comes to delivering on its brand promise of “consitently delivering an exceptional customer experience.” It has taken the steps necessary to push the envelope further in order to continue to deliver on their brand promise.
Amazon explains why they created Amazon Go:
Four years ago 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.
According to the official FAQ page, the store and shelves are equipped with “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.” Meaning, it can detect when products are remvoed and returned to the shelves. When you leave the store, you account is charged, presumably using facial-recognition technology.
How This Shopping Concept May Disrupt the Existing Shopping Experience
When I think of the existing physical shopping experience, it is a pretty dull experience. In my mind, it lacks connectivity. While you are able to see, touch, and hold physical products, you also lack information the internet is able to provide. With clothes or shoes, it is often the sizes. For me especially, shopping for cothes and shoes is mainly an online experience. Very few stores carry a wide variety of size 15 shoes, nor do they stock a 38″ inseam pants.
Revel Systems, a point-of-sales company that helps retailers with inventory, purchase orders, and analytics, recently released a report that revealed “64 percent of consumers think it’s important for physical retailers to have a strong online presence, and 93 percent say they research an item online before buying it in person at a store.“
While the Amazon Go store doesn’t solve my clothes-buying-in-person problem yet, it certainly eases other shopping frustrations, such as the check out line. It also feels faster as you can connect your app to the turnstile when you enter the store, get what you need, walk out of the store and keep going. The app sends you a receipt of your purchase. This seamless, more natural experience is welcome to an often frustrating, clunky checkout process. In fact, Amazon’s new technology platform could be modified to fit other retail store types. I’d look to see Amazon’s new book store concept adapt the technology if the beta test goes well.
The Future is Here
It feels like we are finally stepping into the future. Our technology is beginning to seamlessly integreate with our physical world, fusing the two together to create a new, hybrid brand experience. Amazon’s new shopping concept feels futuristic to me – I can’t wait to experience it!
What’s your take? Are you excited for this new shopping experience? Is technology going too far? Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter @BWarsinske. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Also published on Medium.