Amazon Go’s cashier-less store has finally launched to the public, to widespread positive reviews.
Last year, we speculated on the technology behind Amazon Go, and the impact its solution will have on the retail space. Now that it’s opened its doors, we’d like to revisit the future of retail, and the technology that will be underpinning it.
Photo via Amazon Go
Customers prize convenience
Amazon Go’s prime target is the time-poor professional: the city-dweller who doesn’t have time to undertake a weekly shop at a full-size grocery store, but who still wants fresh food.
This lines up with general trends; whilst around 54% of US households are Amazon Prime subscribers, providing customers with on-demand video streaming and free shipping, 65% of online shoppers still prefer to buy from physical locations.
But Amazon wasn’t the first to market.
Bingobox launched in 2016, and now has over 200 shops in 29 cities in China. An entirely unmanned store, customers swipe their WeChat QR code to enter. After scanning RFID tagged items, a camera checks on exit that the customer is only taking the items they’ve paid for.
BIU, a store selling sports merchandise, uses facial recognition technology to let customers into the store, and offers them tailored recommendations based on their previous purchasing habits.
There’s even trials of a solar-powered self-driving grocery store, Moby, that brings the convenience to a customer’s doorstep, whilst still relying on the barcode-scanning capability of smartphones.
Photo via Moby
In just the third quarter of 2017, over $150 million of funding was directed to Chinese cashier-less stores.
China is showing that consumers aren’t necessarily concerned about the underlying technology, but are seeking a frictionless experience.
As a deep location company, we’ve noticed this too. Over the past year we’ve seen an increase in press interest around our indoor location technology, which allows customers to use augmented reality to better navigate the shops or airports they are in.
By equipping customers with the tools to improve their own experience, we are empowering them to engage with retailers on their terms whilst eliminating the pain points that limit customer conversion.
People power still matters
Whilst automation is on the rise, offering the best customer experience is going to be the lynchpin of success.
There have already been lay-offs in China due to the increased competition with cashier-less stores, but Amazon foresees a more integrated approach.
Speaking to the New York Times, Gianna Puerini – the woman at the helm of Amazon Go – noted they have still hired staff for the store: “we’ve just put associates on different kinds of tasks where we think it adds to the customer experience.”
Photo via Pexels
The experience of being in a store is clearly still a contributing factor to customer buying decisions; 72% of online shoppers in America still buy their groceries from a physical store.
Increasingly, customers are using a blend of online research, reviews and price comparisons to inform their decisions, and this continues once they’ve made it in-store to get a physical feel for a product. 45% of Americans have used their phones in-store to look up online reviews, or to compare prices.
To offer the best in-store experience, retailers need to take a multi-channel approach to customer experience. Relevant promotions, informed recommendations and easy navigation blend together the online-offline experience to create a seamless shopping trip.
Data fuels the retail engine
Clearly, customers are already using online and offline methods to optimise their shopping. But all this creates data – data that can be used to seamlessly tailor their in-store experience.
An example of some of the data analytics Pointr can provide to retailers.
This data allows us to improve customer experience and increase sales; in an in-store environment it will allow us to optimize merchandising to maximise profits.
Customers are increasingly more comfortable with sharing their data if they receive value. In-store promotions and recommendations offer the customer relevant content, whilst brick-and-mortar stores are able to use online technology to optimise offline experiences. Of all emerging technologies that North American retailers are buying, proximity/location-based marketing is expected to see the greatest growth in spending.
By removing the most common pain points of shopping; the long waits, the wandering up and down aisles, the hassle of trying to pack goods and pay at the same time, there are huge opportunities to enrich the in-store experience of customers. This not only elevates customer experience, but also encourages brand loyalty.
At Pointr, we’ve already helped the likes of Harrods to implement comprehensive solutions that work for them. We help retailers better serve their customers with technology solutions that help in-store navigation, provide relevant content to improve consumer experience and loyalty, and provide stores with the data they need to optimise their offering.