Will Amazon Go Rewrite the Retail Story?

By Kirsten Oelrich 3 min read

The last few years have been tumultuous for the retail sector. Retail giant Abercrombie and Fitch recently announced it would close as many as 60 U.S. based stores, while sports retailer Foot Locker revealed it would be closing 110 stores to focus on the remaining higher-performing stores. Another retail icon, American Apparel closed all its U.S. stores and filed for bankruptcy last year. A change of fortunes seems unlikely even as retailers scramble to lure shoppers into stores. However, as most retailers continue to finetune their omni-channel strategies, there’s a new game changer on the horizon.

On January 22, 2018, three Amazon Go stores were launched for the public in Seattle and Chicago. Amazon has combined technologies like image recognition software, computer vision, machine learning, and biometrics to automate purchase, payment and checkout without standing in a queue or opening your wallet. This is now being called the ‘cashierless’ shopping experience.

Here’s what an Amazon Go store looks like − there are no cashiers, no cash registers, and no self-service checkout stand, as it is fully automated. All you need to do is download the Amazon Go app on your device, pick up whatever items you need and then leave the store. Amazon instantly bills your credit card on the way out of the store. A detailed receipt of your purchases, the amount paid, and time spent at the store all be available on the app. Amazon is expected to open stores in New York and San Francisco and add 3,000 by 2021. As the juggernaut continues to roll, here are a few things you need to know:

The Amazon Go App

To get started, you need to download the Amazon Go app. Once done, you need to log in with your Amazon Account. All you need to do is scan your personalized barcode from the app at the turnstile at the entrance of the store. The app then helps you in various ways such as, guiding you to the exact location of the product, recommending products, promoting offers and discounts, sending notifications when there are certain variation of prices depending on the rate of its sale. As you exit the turnstile, your credit card would be billed. It is impossible to shoplift at the store as everything is accurately billed to your Amazon account.

The Amazon Go shopping experience

As soon as you enter the store, you are being monitored by the hundreds of cameras installed on the roof of the store. These cameras track every move you make and items you place in your basket. These cameras also create 3D images of you and collect your biometric data to distinguish you from the person beside you. The data is then stored till an accurate receipt is generated. You will also receive a custom greeting and personalized suggestion on your app. There are weight sensors on every shelf, so when you pick up a product from the shelf it gets automatically added to your bill and if placed back on the shelf, it will be removed from it. The Amazon software is also able to discern from the packaging and labels. Packaged food has unique patterns printed on them which operates as a QR code. The bill is only generated when you leave the store. It will also refund your money in case there are any discrepancies in your bill.

The retail world post Amazon Go

Amazon Go is at an elementary stage, and once retailers integrate it, things could change things drastically ─ labor costs can be reduced and resources could be optimized for better efficiency; shoplifting can be curbed and associated losses could be reduced; and queues could cease to exist, enhancing the overall customer experience. But competitors are emerging fast and Zippin (a San Francisco start-up) and Walmart are the latest entrants in this space. Industry experts estimate that over the next decade, all retailers will adopt the technology, changing the retail sector forever.

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Kirsten Oelrich

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Kirsten Oelrich