How far can Amazon really ‘Go’?
Author: Gary Byrne, Head of Retail Solutions UK
Since its big fanfare opening, Amazon Go has become a firm establishment in Seattle and is now set to open in Chicago and San Francisco. Once customers get used to how fast and convenient it is - given that payment and cashier queues are now obsolete - what seemed like a futuristic concept is fast cementing itself as a retail reality.
In fact, the success appears to have surprised Amazon itself. Speaking at the Shoptalk retail conference held in Las Vegas this Spring, the company referenced that it is already seeing steady customer return. Gianna Puerini, Vice President of Amazon Go, noted his surprise at the huge turnout when the store first opened to the public in January this year. "We've been delighted with customer response," said Puerini “Initially, the first or second time customers shop they tend to ask, ‘if it’s really OK to just leave’ without physical payment (and that’s why you’ll find a sign above the exit that says ‘it’s OK’).”
Undoubtedly, this concept will continue to grow as customers evolve their shopping habits. Fresh grocery shopping is looking to become digitised, with the potential of Amazon deploying the technology at Whole Foods being considered. However, it’s not just the US who gets to enjoy futuristic grocery shopping.
In Europe, many supermarket chains have been rising to the challenge of implementing digital retail to give customers an improved experience. Driven by the need to enhance the traditional shopping experience to boost customer engagement, we at Panasonic are supporting retailers to enhance in-store experience and increase customer return to physical retail spaces.
We see this as a priority area particularly for grocery retailers, where the product rotation on shelves is much quicker. Through the work with our technology partners, we have developed a real-time planogram which increases the productivity of click and collect operators. They can geo-locate the items on their list, identify the products that are out of stock via CCTV ahead of time, and plan ahead to ensure the store is sufficiently stocked so there’s no downtime for customers when making purchases. Other ready-made solutions which we’ve developed with our expert partners include:
- Mapping the retail journeys of individual shoppers to ensure that store layout is optimised to help increase spend
- Real-time out of stock detection, alongside automated stock control and shelf replenishment ensures a more fluid and improved shopping experience for customers
- LinkRay technology: interactive displays in stores with personalised information to engage shoppers and build loyalty through a seamless in-store experience
Anticipating customer needs and personalisation is a current priority for many retailers. In a bid to stand out from the crowd, retailers are increasingly applying technology and data to understand more about shoppers buying habits. Puerini touched on the Amazon Go customer experience and how Amazon learns who its customers are and their needs via the app. Customers can leave feedback on the store and share their experience, all of which provides the company with a bevy of information about who’s shopping with them. By having access to this data, Amazon can suggest preferred products based on shoppers’ past purchases and build on loyalty.
The potential in Europe and the rest of the world is huge, following the initial success of Amazon Go. Retail habits have shifted quicker than we’ve ever seen before and e-commerce has been a real threat. As the boundaries between online and offline continue to blur, the physical retailer is competing in a low margin, highly competitive market, so having the ability to provide better customer experience and prevent losses is how they can fight back.
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