There is no doubt; Amazon is the smartest food retailer

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December 06, 2016

There is no doubt; Amazon is the smartest food retailer

Yes we have seen ApplePay, wave-and-pay systems, self-checkout, self-scanning with in-store devices and phones, Google Wallet – but none compare to what this Amazon Go technology appears to do.

Amazon’s YouTube video of their Amazon Go convenience store has broken conventional supermarket wisdom and has proven that Amazon’s foray into food is one traditional retailers should fear for many reasons. 

The first reason is that they know how to communicate. “Just walk out” says it all! It’s simple, straightforward and easy to understand for shoppers and clearly underscores the benefit to the shopper. No lines. No crabby cashiers. No swiping your credit card. No bagging. Grocery has a tendency to name and describe complex technologies in a way that confuses – Amazon’s language breaks through all that.

The second reason, of course, is the technology itself (new thinking) using computer vision, deep learning algorithms, sensor fusion and machine learning according to their video. The grocery industry has talked about shoppers being able to bypass the checkout for decades. IBM and others have been pushing for RFID chips (old thinking) to be added to individual packages to allow that to happen once the price of the chip fell below a half a cent; critics have debated the cost and the potential for personal information breeches – both of which has delayed the technology from becoming mainstream. In fact RSR Research published in their study, Keeping Up With The Mobile Consumer that 50% of retailers with revenue greater than $1 billion say that mobile technology is moving too fast to keep up. Shame on them, kudos to Amazon.

Yes we have seen ApplePay, wave-and-pay systems, self-checkout, self-scanning with in-store devices and phones, Google Wallet – but none compare to what this Amazon Go technology appears to do. Clearly a next step for Amazon will be to take the consumer preference data collected and then be able to make recommendations and even offer special pricing to individual shoppers. 

The third reason is merchandising. I am assuming that the video was shot in the actual store - the displays and layout appears to be on target, especially for the Amazon headquarters neighborhood and potential shoppers. A slow motion scan of their offerings seem to include the basics you would find in a c-store, but their array of sandwiches, salads, bowls, prepared foods, meal kits, bakery (seemingly made on-site) and even being able to add a “pop” of protein to a meal is the epitome of smart food marketing and is extraordinary.  

The store is just open to Amazon’s employees for now, but I’m hoping to get in there and take a closer look, and taste, before it officially opens. We have seen the future of food retailing and it is called Amazon.