Amazon Go

Reactions to Amazon Go: An Assessment of the Retail Industry as it Stands

by Ryan Schradin

Last month, the retail world was shaken up by the opening of Amazon Go, Amazon’s grand entrance into the convenience/grocery store game that allows shoppers to walk in, take what they want, and leave. Simple as that – no lines, no checkout. It’s all done with Amazon “magic.”

Several reporters have highlighted their seamless shopping experiences there, with many feeling strange just walking out of a store without waiting in line to pay. It feels counterintuitive, like shoplifting. It’s a grocery experience we haven’t had yet and it’s definitely shaking things up in an industry that is ripe for disruption.

To explore the effects and opinions, both negative and positive, on Amazon Go, RTI is featuring a roundup of articles this week that look at some of the challenges that lay ahead for Amazon. Here are some of the top headlines looking at Amazon Go:

Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future

Seattle-based New York Times reporter Nick Wingfield was given the opportunity to experience the Amazon Go store before it opened to the public and he reported on it earlier this year. He gave a thorough overview of the store layout, functionality, and on-brand Amazon quirks that might throw off the every day grocery shopper.

He looked especially closely at the technology powering the no-checkout hook. “The only sign of the technology that makes this possible floats above the store shelves — arrays of small cameras, hundreds of them throughout the store,” Wingfield wrote. “Amazon won’t say much about how the system works, other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software. Translation: Amazon’s technology can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every can of soup and bag of trail mix.”

Wingfield also looked at the reallocation of human help in the store, because obviously it no longer includes cashiers. Because they won’t be so hung up on getting customers out the door, employees can focus on creating the best experience possible for the customer. Ensuring shelves are stocked, questions are answered, and any technical difficulties are addressed is where their efforts are focused.

Read the whole story here.

‘Is it Shoplifting if it’s Not the customer’s fault?’: Amazon Go Raises Questions for the Retail Industry

As anyone who has ever worked in the retail industry knows, shrink (or shoplifting) is one of the top concerns for a store. Preventing it, spotting it, reacting to it – it’s all normally included in employee training at any store.

As someone who has worked for three major retail brands, I know it’s not something that retailers take lightly, even if they seemingly could afford it. Because the reality is that most can’t at the rate it occurs in any standard store.

So what is the answer to reducing shrink in a store where the checkout process already feels like your shoplifting?

What happens when for some reason, Amazon fails to charge you for an item you take? Abha Bhattarai at the Chicago Tribune explored just that in a recent article asking Amazon about their protocol for shoplifting, accidental or otherwise.

“It happens so rarely that we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened,” Gianna Puerini, Amazon Go’s vice president, explained. “I’ve been doing this a year and I have yet to get an error. So we’ve tried to make it super easy on the rare occasion that does happen either to remove it or enjoy breakfast on us.”

It will be interesting to see how this approach unfolds and how creative shoplifters will have to get in order to sneak something by the all-knowing Amazon Go cameras and scanners.

Read the whole story here.

Amazon’s New Checkout-Free Grocery Store Doesn’t Take Food Stamps

Another important issue that grocery shoppers almost don’t think about anymore is whether a grocer accepts food stamps or not. Our existing grocery infrastructure has included it for so long that it’s not something that comes to mind immediately.

Stores from Whole Foods to 7-11 accepts EBT cards. But our friends at Amazon Go do not accept them, which is surprising given that nearly 15 percent of Washington residents are enrolled in SNAP.

According to April Glaser at Slate, “Elsewhere, Amazon has made a little progress on this score. Last January, it joined six other online grocery retailers in a two-year pilot program accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in three states. And over the summer, the company started offering a steep discount on Prime membership for anyone with a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer card, which transfers money to people on government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the SNAP food stamps program, cutting the monthly price from $10.99 a month to $5.99 a month.”

We’ll be interested to see if and when Amazon Go plans to accept EBT cards to accommodate a large amount of potential shoppers.

Read the whole story here.

Kroger Strikes Back at Amazon Go With Expansion of Shopper Tech

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Amazon Go is forcing other grocers to really push the envelope and innovate. This has become a common role for Amazon, with them being a pioneer in ecommerce as well as making two-day shipping a norm.

Well Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the U.S., has offered up a response. According to Craig Giamonna at Bloomberg, Kroger is expanding its “Scan, Bag, Go” technology to 400 stores across the nation.

Giamonna reported, “The system allows customers to use a handheld scanner to log grocery items in their cart as they shop, while also viewing coupons and a running total of their order. The service is meant to speed up checkout, and Kroger says that customers will eventually be able to pay for their groceries directly through the app.”

Kroger has shown that it will continue to adapt to shopper expectations with the recent expansion of its cloud portfolio and well as pilot technology like their “Scan, Bag, Go” offering. The grocery store of the future is here, folks.

Read the whole story here.

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