Amazon, the massive online retailer, recently opened a physical store in Seattle. But this is no regular retail store. There are no checkouts inside and not even one cashier. This seemingly automated store is attracting a great deal of attention for obvious reasons. How is Amazon running a store without checkout counters? Is this a glimpse into the future? Can small businesses learn anything from it? Our Global Resources LLC consultants weigh in below.
The Amazon Go store is powered mainly by two things: a smartphone app and a state-of-the-art camera system. The store’s ceiling is covered with dozens of high-tech cameras that can track customers and their movements. These are not mere anti-shoplifter cameras. The camera system can identify the products customers put in their grocery bags (there are no shopping carts because there’s no physical checkout). When a customer picks an item off the shelf and puts it in their bag, the sophisticated system is capable of placing the same item in the virtual shopping cart of the Amazon Go app. If the customer puts an item back on the shelf, the system automatically removes it.
Customers can enter the store by using their Amazon Go smartphone app. The products they pick up are billed to the app’s account when customers leave the store. There is no stopping for swiping cards or for security.
However, the Amazon Go store is not entirely without human employees. Though the cashier jobs are gone, there are human employees who provide technical assistance to customers. The store also has employees who restock shelves and prepare fresh food items.
The Go store is undoubtedly innovative and novel. But is it a sustainable model? We can find out when the store goes public this month in Seattle. While small businesses may not be able to afford the type of technology that powers the Amazon Go store, there is an important lesson to learn from it. The Go store may be creating buzz for its tech sophistication. But customers visit for their convenience. The store has effectively eliminated a major pain point for customers—waiting.
Customers can walk in, pick up whatever they want, and leave. Because there is no cashier or checkout counter to worry about, it’s very easy to spend a lot of money inside. It facilitates freewheeling spending while also offering realistic solutions to the common problems faced in the checkout process. Even if high-tech is out of budget for small businesses, Amazon Go offers an important lesson in making the purchasing process pain-free.
Does your business have pain points that prevent customers from spending as much as they’d like to? Some of our Global Resources Reviews can help your small business identify the problem.