The first Amazon Go opened just weeks ago, but the retail world is already abuzz that more of the franchise could be on the way. Amazon could open as many as six more of its pioneering concept store in cities across the US, including in Seattle and Los Angeles.
What, exactly, is Amazon Go? Essentially, Amazon Go is just like any other retail store – but the catch is that it doesn’t use cashiers or cash registers. Instead, customers use a smartphone app to find items in the store. Cameras and sensors located throughout the store track what items customers remove from the store’s shelves and put into their bags. When the customer leaves the store, the app charges him or her for everything that has been taken. Essentially, Amazon is taking the one-click shopping experience offline and into real life.
While Amazon Go is the first store of its kind in the US, globally, the concept isn’t necessarily novel. In China, for example, cashier-less stores are already relatively common in cities, leveraging Chinese consumers’ use of various payment technology platforms and mobile apps. Some even employ sophisticated facial recognition technology to ascertain who is buying what product. Given the rise of this technology elsewhere in the world, many analysts have predicted that Amazon Go is just the first in a wave of automated, cashier-free stores expected to hit the US.
Ultimately, the technological evolution of retail will continue to facilitate customer interactions where the primary interaction point is technology – not humans. So, is this the end of cashiers in retail stores across the globe? Well, not so fast. According to a recent piece of analysis conducted by Accenture, a full 83 percent of customers prefer dealing with humans in a retail setting as opposed to computers. In other words, retailers should know that it won’t ever be fully possible to completely take humans out of the shopping experience. At the end of the day, customers appreciate the social element of the retail experience and prefer interacting with other human beings over robots.