Nowadays a lot of retail companies make use of self-scanning cash desks, to make the checkout process faster and more comfortable for the customer. However, last week web shop Amazon opened the first real-world supermarket in which the customer can pick their groceries and walk out without standing in a line at a cash desk. The customers check in with the Amazon Go application on their smartphone and can walk out, while the checkout is automatically done via their smartphone. Which could solve one of the biggest nuisances of grocery shoppers.
The supermarket is named Amazon Go and the first location is based in Amazon’s hometown Seattle, where Amazon employees are testing the concept right now.
The Amazon Go supermarket makes use of ‘Just Walk Out’ technology, which is based on computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning. This means that the technology uses sensors across the supermarket and artificial intelligence to track the customers and the products that they pick out of the shelves. Although Amazon is acting secretive about the way their technology exactly works, retail tech specialists believe that the technology that is introduced is actually enforceable.
In my opinion this step of Amazon is good development for the company and the industry, since it actually enforces a completely new way of shopping in physical stores, which will provide new impulses for customers to keep on shopping in physical retail stores. Besides this Amazon forces the customers that would like to make use of the store to open an account with Amazon, to finish the transactions related to the products that are purchased during a visit. With this obligation Amazon will get more feet on the ground in the banking sector. Furthermore Amazon will gather a new kind of data by tracking customers behaviour within the store in an unrivalled way. With this data Amazon will be a step ahead of other retailers that do not use technologies like this yet and be able to increase the recommendations, service and experience for the customer.
Despite all these advantages, it is questionable whether the concept will actually appeal to the customers of today and will be enforced by competitors to subsequently really change the industry. For now it is still cheaper for retailers to put a cashier behind a cash desk to fulfil the checkout process. And on top of this, the cashier behind the cash desk fulfils an important function for a lot of customers that actually don’t hate the standing in the line and wait for other customers to pay part of the physical retail stores. They can answer questions and attend the customer on promotions or entire loyalty programs, which will lead to a continuous stream of customer data.