All the rumors about Amazon.com transforming the shopping experience became true with the inauguration of Amazon Go in downtown Seattle. Amazon has a history of remarkable expansions that create a great impact and also challenges the surrounding business rivals to power up the creativity and innovation.

Launch

With the launch of its first Amazon Go store that saves the trouble of checkouts, handling cash, looking out for credit cards, waiting for hours and hours to get your items billed; Amazon.com has revolutionized the concept of grocery shopping while preserving the ambiance of a shopping store. Yes, I am serious you actually have to buy it. There are no checkouts, no long waiting lines, all you have to do is enter with your smartphone logged in to Amazon Go app and shop what you want and move out through the exit door. It has actually been made hassle free. The big giant has always been a source of change for the marketing industry, either those who can not keep up with the changing trends have to leave or those who want to stay have to devise survival strategies.

Grocery Industry

Amazon’s step towards launching this new kind of store has actually shaken up the grocery industry from a deep slumber. The idea has been appreciated by many and why not? It saves you a great deal of time, which not to forget is the actual money. Many retailers are held back by Amazon’s out of the box concept others are finding it difficult to come up with solutions to cope up the challenge.

Solving Troubles of Traditional Grocery Shopping

Big retail stores according to their perception have come up with ways to solve troubles with the traditional grocery experience and for this, they have spent a fortune on the purchase of optical detectors and other automated devices. But the need for a human attendant if something goes wrong never vanishes, however, Amazon Go eradicates the chances of this ever happening. This makes the other retailers worried because this concept is actually practical and likable whether they like it or not once this project proves to be a success they will have to surrender or evolve with it.

Opportunities

Amazon Go is, however, giving opportunities to smaller retailers to represent themselves. Small partnership ventures have been started that would give representation to the locals as well so that they can flourish and make a profit. Some criticism is also there regarding the increase in unemployment as the stores proposed by Amazon are free of human employees but the truth is more jobs have been offered to retailers as well as tech experts to make this program a success. Apart from the fact that it has helped the unemployed, it has increased the pressure on small businesses to forge qualified and innovative candidates in order for their businesses to exist.

Domino Effect

Once Amazon Go succeeds, competition for quality would be even higher making the other retailers worried and compelling them to adopt the exquisite idea. Why? Because it’s always the domino effect.

Taking Out Inefficiencies

It is not a secret that Robots are taking some of the human jobs. Amazon, with its disruptive technology wants to take away the inefficiencies associated with the traditional stores. Amazon used most of its experimental tactics in the UK. One of the reason might be perhaps UK consumers are open to change. And it found the success and necessary knowledge to advanced to other countries. Anyhow, will it be a job killer? Thats the question which would be addressed thoroughly by a lot of stakeholders. Not everyone will move on to this bandwagon. And it is quite difficult to convert all the market to this technology. I heard a joke sometime in the past, when automated checkout machines were introduced. A guy went into Tesco (a UK store chain), and saw these machines. The next thing that came to his mind was ‘I don’t know why everybody says in UK that immigrants are taking their jobs!’.

Technology Behind the Amazon Go

Amazon claims, and to some extant a good claim, that its technology is the world’s most advanced technology that powers the operations behind the scene. This shopping technology is enabled by Artificial Intelligence. This somehow shows how artificial technology can play a role in easing the modern life. Artificial Intelligence itself is powered by machine learning. All cameras, in-store and mobile sensors (proximity, accelerometer etc), mobile app etc play their role in this mix.

This is similar to the technology that is used in computer vision, self-driving cars, sensors, deep learning, or machine learning. Anyhow, there will be a lot of data that will be generated as well through this technology. So we believe privacy might become some of the concern as well. Amazon with its huge background in cloud security etc will be able to address this issue.

Just-Walk-Out Technology

The in-store technology is called Just-Walk-Out, which keeps track of the products on the shelves, and in-store user behaviour. When you walk into the store, you have to scan a QR code using your Amazon Go App. This is connected to the Amazon Go App where the virtual cart gets managed. The virtual cart management is automated, and that is one of the spice of this technology.

Amazon Go App

You have to install Amazon Go App, in order to shop at the Amazon Go store. When you exit the store, you can a notification that your Amazon account has been charged. Also remember you need to have an Amazon account. I think if Amazon Go gets its success then in 5-10 years, every person in the world would have at-least an Amazon account.

The receipt get pushed to your device as well. There is another positive thing here, and its called sustainability. The paper receipts will go away, and you will have an electronic receipts. So another big thumbs up.

From Fastest Delivery Service, to Automation In Self-Servicing

Amazon, with its Amazon Prime same day delivery, to even 1-2 hours slot delivery, when highly efficient in the last year. I believe the technologies that are powering the success of Amazon centric services are now being pushed at the consumer level. More than 50 percent of the Product Discovery searches happened on Amazon, last year, instead of on Google. So there is a tough competition on that front as well. So it seems like Amazon is pushing more buttons.

Human Worker’s Job Kill?

In the meantime, many jobs are going to get killed. Microsoft’s CEO already said about this after the Amazon Go’s launch that instead of working on killing the jobs, the tools should be aiding the working to ease their lives. Do we really need to use our problem solving AI to only target the end-user? Shouldn’t we care about the people who are not actually the end-users, but the workforce that is in between. I believe its the time we as a global society move forward, and think about it, and act for it.

A study needs to be done, on how much the Amazon Go and similar phenomenon will affect the job industry.

Privacy and ease-of-shopping

There is a long history of general public falling in the trap of privacy exchanging phenomenons. From Facebook privacy to Amazon Go’s shopping patterns, the privacy will surely be affected. We always trade ease of doing something with our privacy. There might be a time when there will be no privacy. It might all be boiled down to ethics. But currently we are not sure how we are evolving in terms of ethics.

There are instances where it is noted that people sometimes don’t care about if people are sharing their personal pictures on facebook. It has become a norm. Similarly, what a person is consuming might become a norm. Its a matter of time when Amazon might open-up an API which will help third parties to analyse user buying behaviour. This is already being done, but to the level of day-to-day groceries, it might be a different story.

IoT Integrated Shopping

IoT integrated shopping is already on the rise. There are many small stores which are doing this. Once the artificial intelligence or the technology that powers Amazon Go, will become easy to access, these stores will get benefit from it. And then this will become a norm as well.


The author can be reached at khawar@infoginx.com.

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