Next time you’re shopping, just walk out. No, we’re not talking about shoplifting. We’re talking about Amazon’s new robotized grocery store called Amazon Go. The new shopping experience promises its customers “no lines, no checkout – just grab and go.”
This past December, the first Amazon Go store opened its doors to employees near its headquarters in Seattle. While the Seattle location has plans to open to the public early 2017, the e-commerce giant has confirmed that the rest of the pilot program will hit major cities, including Las Vegas, New York, Miami, and San Francisco by 2018.
The new grocery concept lets customers walk in, grab food and walk out, without ever having to stand in a checkout line. Easy peasy. This revolutionary technology uses machine learning, sensors and artificial intelligence for a seamless shopping experience. Zoolander & Hansel were right all along – it is in the computer.
As customers walk into their store, they simply tap their cellphones on a turnstile logging them into the store’s network and connecting them to their Amazon account through an app. The technology tracks what items customers pick up and then adds them to the app’s virtual cart. When the customer leaves, the app adds up everything in the virtual cart and charges their Amazon account. Behold, the “just walk out technology.” Just don’t try the “walk out” method if you aren’t in Amazon Go. Frowned upon by most retailers. And the police. And the judicial system. And probably your mom, too.
With Amazon breaking into the $800 billion grocery market, 2017 will be a learning experience on how this new venture might affect foodservice operators. From its inception, here are three key learnings to take away from Amazon Go and the new shopping experience it delivers:
- Deliver convenience
In a world where time is just as precious as your first born child (too far?), convenience is key. Amazon Go is the story of time saved. It is important for your customers to view your operation as a valuable use of their time, even when they only have 15 minutes to spare.
Operations must satisfy the need for speed for those living on the go. In fact, the average time it takes a customer to walk into a convenience store, purchase an item and leave is between 3 to 4 minutes. Now, imagine how much faster it could be without any monetary exchange.
- Deliver experience
At its core, Amazon’s brand promise is to be “Earth’s biggest selection and most customer-centric company.” Founder, chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos credits Amazon’s success to its conviction to customer obsession over competitor obsession in his annual letter to shareholders. This laser-beam focus on the customer is what has driven Amazon’s immense brand loyalty, brand trust and the most intuitive brand experience for consumers.
This business mentality is similar to that of a restaurant where top-notch service is key. It is also worth mentioning the decreasing grocery costs and increasing restaurant prices will leave consumers considering price vs. experience for their next meal decision. Foodservice operators must create an epic customer experience first, while also delivering a menu that they would never have at home.
- Deliver via technology
AI is the future. If that sentence instilled a sense of anxiety while scenes of robots and the apocalypse flashed before your eyes – you may be watching too much Westworld.
Despite a good floorplan flow, the checkout line is always the worst part of any shopping experience. From long lines to fumbling with change as the next person begins to scan their items, the register is where most grocery anxiety takes place. Smart foodservice operators should take advantage of new technology to make the ordering and check out process easier for guests. One step further, robots can even do the cooking for you. Random craving for a bratwurst? There’s a robot for that.
Only time will tell how Amazon may revolutionize the foodservice industry. In the meantime, foodservice operators focusing on customer convenience, quality experience and new technology are on the right track for success. Have additional Amazon Go learnings? Be sure to share in the comments below!