Amazon Go is a new 1800sqft store that incorporates a checkout-free shopping experience, which the e-commerce giant said was made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.
Its ‘just walk out’ technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When shoppers are done, they can leave the store and shortly after be charged on their Amazon account.
Amazon said the concept had been in development for four years, with the Go store offering ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made fresh every day by on-site chefs. It will stock grocery staples like bread and milk through to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates.
The Go store is currently open to Amazon employees in its Beta program, and will open to the public in early 2017.
Speaking to Inside Retail, Dr Gary Mortimer, associate professor and food retailing expert at QUT Business School, said the concept shows how retailing today is not just about product and price and that shoppers are thinking about experience when they shop.
“ When you are a pureplay retailer all you can offer is product and price,” he said.
“ Amazon’s move initially into opening physical bookstores then the small convenience stores demonstrates that they are products that customers still want to touch, feel, smell and taste the experience, so I think that’s [Amazon Go] part of their move to differentiate themselves from some other players in the market.”
When asked if naysayers have been hasty in asserting Amazon will “destroy” Aussie retailers, Mortimer said he believes the e-commerce giant may not have the significant impact on the way Aussie consumers shop as anticipated.
“Particularly for food and grocery because online sales still only represent about two per cent of the entire grocery market, it is a very small proportion, there’s a lot of operational costs that go into doing online channels,” he said.
“Amazon will face the challenge that Australia is not the UK or the US , it’s a very small population with wide distribution for supply chains.
“It is challenging and they will need warehouses that are hard to come by, though there is an indication that they would form some potential alliance with Metcash and operate through their warehouse and distribution centres which would be smart, but I think if you look at the proportion of people that shop online for groceries is very small, I don’t think its going to have much of an impact.”
According to Mortimer, the lack of having a checkout is the future of retail.
“I think particularly for convenience and supermarket retailing, which have very low involvement and are habitual shopping exercises.
“Apparel and cosmetic retailers may differ, because where there’s room for more engagement service but when it comes to convenience supermarket retailing, that is the direction we are heading.”
Check out the Amazon Go store in the video below:
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