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What Amazon’s “Go Grocery” Has In Store For The Future Of Commerce

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Matt Wujciak

Amazon Go

Food for thought

Imagine a futuristic society where commerce was almost solely online. But the off chance that you did feel like going into a store, you picked up the product you wanted and walked right out. Simple as that.

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You would receive a digital bill through an app or email before you made it to the parking lot. Then you would pay the bill with a click of a button, or maybe no button at all. Without a single traceable transaction, the store’s system would know who you were and what you bought, all linked to your personal store account connected to a larger consumer database. 

While this is still far from everyday reality, Amazon has recently taken a step in this direction. 

Already dominating the e-commerce industry for the past decade, last Tuesday, they unveiled a new supermarket prototype that relies more on automation than human effort — “a controversial, job-killing business model that CEO Jeff Bezos had dismissed as nutty three years ago,” the New York Post recently reported. 

The Amazon effect

The 10,400-square-foot “Amazon Go Grocery” store in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood uses surveillance and sensor technology to detect which products customers pick off the shelves, allowing shoppers to pay for a bagful of groceries without the need for a cashier (or the hassle of a line). 

Walk in, grab your groceries, and walk out. 

So how does payment work?

Like the earlier Go stores (introduced in 2018), in Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, Amazon Go Grocery has hundreds of overhead cameras, tracking your every move and marrying your selections to your Amazon account. When you exit, you get an e-mail receipt of your purchases. 

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This enticing concept behind Amazon’s radical Go store, which originally served as a higher grade 7-Eleven-type store aimed at office workers, now aims to drastically disrupt the traditional $800 billion grocery industry.

With a full-sized store and a selection of meats and seafood, fruits, vegetables, wine and beer, Amazon is keeping the likes of WalmartKroger, 7-Eleven, and Instacart on their toes.

How will competitors react? By implementing the same technology...

7-Eleven has already begun experimenting with cashier-less stores to compete with the convenient customer experience aspect that’s historically helped Amazon enter new markets.

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In terms of consumer value, Amazon Go Grocery seems like a no-brainer depending upon individual customer preferences (eliminating wait times and creating frictionless purchasing transactions). 

So what’s the negative? Well, if you’re a supermarket employee, Customer Experience analyst, automation enthusiast, or anyone who doesn’t live under a rock, you can probably guess where this is going. 

The argument over job-replacing automation

canva_-_people_stands_near_green_metal_industrial_machine__1___1582733816_54_208_16_124According to USA Today:

“How those cameras above our heads know that we picked up the correct strawberry jam versus grape jam or a specific type of avocado is beyond me, but Amazon execs assured me it gets it right, 99% of the time.”

"The brutal truth is that Amazon is focused on one thing – eliminating as many jobs as possible," says Marc Perrone, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, representing grocery workers. 

He added that the union looks to make Amazon's grocery plans an election issue for 2020. "Every voter – and every candidate running for office – will be made aware that they have a choice to make: support good jobs or support Amazon’s destruction of jobs."

But Amazon had an interesting backlash.

Amazon’s rebuttal

In a recent statement, Amazon disputed the charge

"It’s both incorrect and misleading to suggest that Amazon destroys jobs – the fact is that no other U.S.-based company has created more jobs than Amazon. In the U.S. alone, Amazon has created over 500,000 jobs for people with all types of experience, education, and skill levels. Amazon jobs – including at Go stores – come with great compensation and benefits, including our $15 minimum wage that is more than twice the national minimum wage.”

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According to Ladd, Amazon envisions a powerhouse chain of 2,000 stores nationally, a mix of its Whole Foods, Go and other outlets, selling the curated selection and fulfilling instant online orders that can be picked up locally. 

So what’s next for Amazon? More importantly, how will it change consumerism as we know it?