Are we misreading Amazon Go?
Amazon introduced Amazon Go - a new way to shop. Just take your products and go. No checkout process is needed.
People around me are very excited with that, however, to me, it looks like a yesterday’s news… Conceptually there is no real innovation here and it is even a deflection from the course they set so far. I suspect there is more here than meets the eye.
The general direction shopping was and is heading to was already set, and by no other than Amazon themselves, online. I agree with the general notion, the checkout process is tedious, and with no disrespect to anyone, the role of the cashier in the process is useless (moving groceries from one place to the other, passing them over the bar-code scanner). And indeed, the change has begun years ago with self-checkout kiosks in the stores and online shopping and deliveries for large-scale shopping carts. Amazon is already taking it to the next level with Prime Now, Dash buttons and Prime Air.
Shopping for groceries especially is a job meant to be online. You buy more-or-less the same stuff, week after week, walking the same aisles, filling the same cart. Just define your grocery list once and buy with a click of a button, every time you need, even at midnight from your bed. The day isn't far away that the fridge will do it for us... From personal experience, it is a game-changer. With my wife and I busy schedules, we switched to online shopping few years ago and saved ourselves at least 3 hours a week.
I can see then that Amazon Go concept is more suited for diners type of place. A grab your lunch type of place while you are at the office or just walking the streets. Food you need on the go.
And excuse me, since when Amazon have consumer-facing real-estate? Are they starting now? Will they buy real-estate in prime locations, invest in decor and make it appealing for us to go shopping there? Because up until now they were all about warehouses, shipping hubs and long conveyors...
It feels like it is something else. In their announcement Amazon stress that "it is all made possible by the same type of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning". I believe the technology is what they are trying to sell. With Amazon cloud, the supporting infrastructure they offer and now this integrated technology, food and groceries franchises will be able to adopt this to their stores and increase their profits. The Amazon Go shop in Seattle, is merely a proof-of-concept and a demo.
I wouldn't expect many more Amazon Go stores showing up in every other main avenue, but we will see many stores that are "powered by Amazon Go".