Taking its relentless obsession to improve customer experience to the next level, Amazon is on the verge of launching an Internet of Things (IoT) based grocery store in the USA.
Welcome to a checkout free shopping experience!
While the industry is talking a lot about implementation of IoT, Amazon is actually doing it. It is creating the ultimate shopping convenience by deploying the latest and greatest technology in its 1,800 sq ft grocery stores where customers can walk in, browse all they like, pick items and walk out of the store. Though it will not be obvious, the Amazon Go store uses sensor fusion, computer vision and deep learning, nothing short of the technology that goes into building self-driving cars. The sensors in the store will intelligently track the items they pick and automatically charge the customer’s account. It means that customers can buy fresh produce off the shelves, browse uninterrupted by a salesperson and avoid having to stand in queue or swipe their card. All they need to have is an Amazon account, a smartphone and the Amazon Go app loaded on it.
What’s on the shelves?
Shopping online has become a way of life. But food is something we would still enjoy fresh. Amazon Go offers the usual grocery items, but also adds gourmet food like locally made chocolate and artisan cheeses. It also offers ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks sourced from favourite bakeries and chefs. For those who want to cook at home but are short on time, it also offers meal kits with all the essential ingredients put together. It makes for a delightful shopping experience as it makes a range of appetizing brands available to shoppers.
What’s the buzz around the store?
It is currently in beta testing and open to Amazon’s employees. When it opens doors to public, it is expected that it will make shopping cooler. In its usual style, it is going to colonise several cities, well on its way to achieve its mission of becoming the world’s most customer centric company.
Meanwhile, what’s Walmart up to?
Walmart has just upped its game by facilitating a zero checkout shopping experience with it’s Scan and Go app. Using this, customers will have to scan the products they want to purchase and tap to pay. They can use store provided scanners in case they don’t own a smartphone, something Walmart hopes to draw more number of shoppers with. Though the Walmart store is not based on cutting-edge technology that powers Amazon Go stores, it will built upon its existing physical retail footprint, something that Amazon is yet to create. On the flipside, it would still have the first-mover’s advantage in creating checkout free shopping. Moreover, it is not limited to grocery items alone, so customers don’t have to hop from one retail shop to another to cover all their shopping needs. Finally, it is something that is not on the cards but already in full swing. It will be interesting to see if Amazon Go just serves a niche customer segment which wants to buy and eat gourmet food on the go.
The big picture:
On the face of it, it looks like Amazon Go is only slightly more convenient than the Walmart store. But the technology that goes into it is way more advanced than that being adopted at Walmart. That is how Amazon has won the hearts and minds of customers – by willing to go the long extra mile to achieve that slightly better customer experience. Because, for discerning consumers, that makes all the difference.