Everyone has been buzzing about Amazon Go, the new store that just opened in Seattle where buyers can simply walk in and swipe their phone, pick out the items they want, and leave — no checkout required. Using infrared cameras and scanners, Amazon Go automatically detects what you’re buying and charges it to your account, making a seamless checkout — and therefore shopping — experience for buyers.
While this new technology is exciting, it raises a number of vital questions: Will this become the new norm for grocery stores or fast food? Will it cause an increase in shoplifting or if the technology fails to charge you, is it even shoplifting? How will it impact cashiers?
But the question B2C business leaders should really be asking is how Amazon Go could impact their business. Not just from a competitive standpoint, but Amazon is constantly pushing the customer experience to new limits and this is just the newest example of how the boundaries in retail and ecommerce are shifting.
Amazon Go could completely change your buyer’s expectations for how they experience retail in real life. What are the norms that we take for granted from a customer experience standpoint, that maybe we shouldn’t in order to exceed customer expectations.
Translating the ease of ecommerce to in-store
The reason Amazon Go is so compelling is because they took one of the annoying aspects of shopping completely out of the customer experience. Just think how many times people go the the supermarket, see the long lines, turn around, and walk out — either postponing their purchase altogether, or looking for an alternative. By eliminating the checkout entirely and automatically billing people for their purchases, it creates a much smoother experience for buyers and increases the probability of a purchase — similar to buying products online.
What Amazon has done is literally taken the 1-Click checkout to the grocery store, easing the friction in the purchase process. You don’t need a credit card or even a bag — you just grab and go. This will open up new ways for more traditional retailers to think about that buying experience as well, once the technology becomes more generally available. It could actually be applied to different retail experiences besides food shopping, bringing back buyers who might otherwise buy online instead.
The power of buyer data
The most compelling feature of Amazon Go is how they’re going to use the customer data they collect to transform the inside of the store and impact the rest of the shopping experience. The stores are able to skip checkout because they’re tracking buyers from the moment they enter the store, capturing information on browsing and buying patterns. It’s likely that Amazon will use this data to reorganize products in the store in a way that improves the buying experience even more. They may even to build more robust profiles of the 45% of households that use Amazon Prime in order to really bridge the online/offline gap.
I’m sure Amazon will test and tweak this to better understand buyer preferences, always looking to increase average order value and customer lifetime value as much as possible. If they can match that in-store data up with your buying behavior online, they can then offer you even more personalized recommendations. With all of that data in once place, they can make it a truly omnichannel experience.
What this means for B2C business
Because Amazon is emulating online buying in the real world, this should make ecommerce companies feel less complacent. Just because online shopping has continually gained market share year over year, it doesn’t mean that traditional retail is dead. If you don’t have a seamless checkout experience on your website, Amazon could easily steal your business.
In fact, some ecommerce sites make buyers type in their name, address, and credit card every time. In comparison to Amazon, that’s simply too much of a barrier to purchase and risks too many abandoned carts. Luckily, now that the patent has expired on Amazon’s 1-Click Checkout, you can actually implement it on your own site and improve your checkout process.
As a B2C business leader, you should always keep one eye on what Amazon is doing. Their business choices inevitably affect yours, and Amazon Go is no different. If you haven’t changed your online or in-person checkout process in years, it’s time to reevaluate.