Is Amazon Go the future of retailing?

Milan Panchmatia Blog, Retail

The launch of the Amazon Go convenience store is a much anticipated event and for many, they see this as the future of retailing. The ability to have frictionless shopping experience where AI, cameras and sensors monitor your every move and allow you to shop without interacting with a cash register or sales assistant.

Whilst Amazon is pioneering this technology, we are already seeing independent third-party companies developing their own solutions that any retailer can implement its own ‘grab and go’ cashless stores. This utopian vision of shopping isn’t however the only game in town and Amazon is only planning to roll out 6 stores this year, as David Marcott form Cantar points out that the technology is still nascent, expensive and until the rate of mobile payments reaches tipping point, unlikely to have a sufficient pay off.

So, if the store of the future isn’t the Amazonian frictionless model, what’s likely to appear in the short to medium term?

Chores vs experiential stores

The continued rise of the subscription model and the breaking down of friction barriers in your day to day shopping will continue. This will be driven through one tap purchasing on your phone or ‘Dash’ style button, auto renewals and same day / ‘Prime’ deliveries. These models are all aimed at taking the ‘Chore’ element out of day to day shopping.

Experiential and virtual stores are likely to see a rise in profile. The millennial shopper is as interested, if not more so, in having an experience, rather than just buying a product. Combining a coffee shop with a fashion store or having an in-house artist customise your sneakers or a band play for your customers whilst they’re shopping is going to drive increased footfall.

Customisation

The customer of today, beyond looking for experiences is also looking to ensure that the product they buy really fits into their lifestyle.

Having something authentic and unique rather than a homogenised, off the shelf product will continue to become more important. What we’re seeing today is not just the addition of a printed name on a catalogue or a monogram on a shirt, but the ability to design and build your perfect item. Already we’re seeing this shift in buying patterns within the fashion industry. Being able to buy the truly customised shirt, with your own choice of fabric, placket, cuffs and collar (as well as the monogram to the custom knit dress that can be produced in store within the hour).

One in three consumers surveyed in a recent Deloitte research paper stated that they were interested in buying personalised products. 71 percent of the respondents suggested that they are prepared to pay a premium for such a service. Specifically, within the fashion industry, 15 percent stated that they were willing to pay over the odds, buy up to 40 percent in most cases for the right level of personalisation.

Micro warehouses

Same day delivery is nowhere near peak, even in locations such as London. The ability to deliver on a same day basis in busy urban areas is a major headache for all but the most major retailers.

The rise of the multi-tenant urban warehouse, designed to serve the Uber style delivery driver will smaller the ability of retailers to provide an urban same day delivery service. Individually, many mid-sized retailers will not be able to afford the technology and infrastructure required, but by using third-party services on a multi tenanted basis they can drive additional revenue as well as far higher customer satisfaction rates.

Augmented reality

As Apple and Android up their AR games, the use of augmented reality in store is likely to see a huge rise. This technology, done well, can provide the customer with additional product information and insights that will drive much higher rates of product purchase. Whilst we don’t all wear Google glasses just yet, the phone in your pocket has the ability to provide you with a completely different point of view before you purchase. Here’s one from an Australian winemaker that I particularly like. https://youtu.be/uDxqdrLlDY8

Conclusion

The retail sector, particularly in the UK, is facing some hard times, but using disruption and innovation can drive the customer back to the store, be it online or to the bricks and mortar version, Offering innovation and differentiation is key to delivering the product and service today’s consumer is looking for, but also will help you maintain growth, and keep costs down.