Grab-and-go shopping was unveiled in the first Amazon Go store in Seattle in January. Staffed checkouts were relegated to the retail dustbin, but somehow it seemed that there weren’t many store staff around either. In a tiny store with only a few hundred SKUs, it isn’t so hard to keep up the required merchandising standards, but how will this concept work in a bigger store?
Will the staff move from the checkouts to the aisles? How will this change the feel of the shopping experience? Most importantly, what is the benefit for the customer?
First and foremost, the goal of Amazon Go is to provide a seamless shopping experience for the customer. They walk in, swipe their phone, pick up what they want and walk out.
It should be quick and easy.
But what if it wasn’t? What if the tech made mistakes? What if they were charged for the wrong product? No technology is perfect, and if there are not appropriate checks and balances, there is the potential for a right mess - especially on a busy weekend.
It is my belief that this technology will increasingly be used in grocery stores where multiple low-cost items are purchased. However, as the stores get bigger, keeping the right products in the right places on the shelf gets more challenging.
I sense that the solution will be to bring the checkout staff into the store and alongside the customers. They will be there to ensure the highest of merchandising standards, but also to retain that human touch that is so important in retail. Maybe they can even give you advice on the latest recipe?
Their job will be to ensure that the shopping experience is a swift one, but also that it is a pleasant one. The best checkout workers are always keen to have a chat, but as the core requirement of their job is to speed the products past the scanner, they can’t get too distracted. The tech will now take the strain on this one, and while the staff are ensuring perfect merchandising standards are maintained, they will also be utterly and totally present for their customers.
Going to the shops is a communal experience in an increasingly lonely world. I understand the benefits of quick shopping, but this doesn’t have to be lonely shopping.
Shop staff have a dual purpose to fulfil.
They will have to be there to ensure that the tech works, but a useful and maybe even more important side-effect will be that they will be there to chat with whoever needs help.
Speedy shopping will not be the only reason for customers to return – the employees who will be required to do the merchandising will be there for them too. If speed and satisfaction are the ultimate metrics, their job will be to help in any way possible.
Will Amazon realize the continuing importance of people in the equation?
Do you think that it is important?
Email me your thoughts.