Imagine walking into a store, grabbing what you need, and just walking out. And no, store security won’t tackle you on the way out the door. We’re talking about an entirely new retail experience – the Amazon Go store.
The store uses computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep AI learning to automatically detect when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keep track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done, you leave the store, your Amazon account is charged, and you get a digital receipt. Sounds simple enough, right?
It does, but once we looked past the innovative form and function of the store, we were left wondering what kind of impact this will have on the psyche of the consumer and the overall retail experience.
Did instant gratification just become more instant?
How will this affect consumer behavior and expectations?
The Amazon Go store only sells food and grocery items, but this could be the beginning of a shift in the overall landscape and consumer behavior when it comes to brick-and-mortar retail. It takes the idea of self-checkout to a whole new level, making transactions more instant than ever before.
With that expectation established, the consumer will want and demand this from every retailer they visit. Just think: You could walk in, get a dolly, grab a big screen TV off the shelf, and walk right out. Or you could pick clothes right off the rack, put them in your bag, and walk down to the next store or out to your car. All the while, your smartphone or wearable device and the store’s computer system work together to take care of all the typical cashier/customer interactions. For the consumer? No lines, no registers, no scanners, no cashiers doing price checks…just grab and go. Which leads us to our next set of questions…
What about store associates? Will they become obsolete?
At Ignite, we talk about the five zones of influence that make up the retail experience. Zone 5, the “talk zone,” represents any face-to-face interaction, whether it’s sales-associate assistance or on-site brand ambassadors. Brands and retailers usually provide these interactions to build a relationship, a sense of trust, on a personal level. But stopping, learning, and chatting with a person about a product seem to go against the quick-visit, grab-and-go intention of the Amazon Go store design.
This shift will most likely change the way the store employees and brand ambassadors interact with consumers. Instead of just working the registers, a handful of roving associates will be there to answer product questions, if needed. But that person could be assisted or even replaced by a robot, eventually.
What does this mean to you as a marketer?
This isn’t just about a retail change. It’s about an evolution. This new shopping experience creates a free-flowing way for people to shop how they want, and that’s a good thing. Your challenge is finding new ways to create those unique, personalized interactions that’ll build the relationship and trust the consumer needs to rely on you as a product and brand.
Strategically, you need to reach out as much as you can through social channels with information that can educate and help consumers while also promoting your product and brand. Providing the most benefit to the consumer—not just a sales pitch—will go a long way for your brand to be the one that they grab and leave with out of the store.