Amazon Go's 'no checkout' is the exception, not the rule

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Unimpressed with smart dressing rooms and payment solutions, younger generations are flocking to stores for the in-store experience, while using technology as an aid.

So, how does Amazon Go, almost relying solely on technology, fit into the future of retail and more importantly, should other retailers follow their lead?

The novelty of Amazon Go has caused a stir in the global retail conversation. Some see it as another sign of the impending demise of careers in retail.

With Amazon Go, the pendulum has swung far to the side of self-service as the company has maximized on technology and eliminated the value of face-to-face interactions. This is not be a recipe for success for every retailer.
This kind of disruption in the retail industry will likely cause a shift, with most retailers falling somewhere in the middle of the two extremes: tech-enabled self-service only or no tech-enablement at all. Thus, programs like Amazon Go’s will coexist with human store associates within traditional retail.

Labor isn’t going away, and wise retailers will continue to invest in their people and technology to aid them, rather than technology to eliminate roles. There is no silver bullet.

Instead, retailers should look for foundational technologies on which they can build programs. An example of tech that empowers both store associates and shoppers is an indoor mapping solution. By employing an indoor map, retailers enable shopper engagement, gain access to shopper insights and can optimize store operations, including payment methods. The data collected through applications built on in-store mapping provides insights into customer preferences that retailers can apply to boost sales, productivity, merchandising and marketing initiatives, overall creating a more fluid and positive shopping experience.

By actually listening to consumer wants and needs through data, a retailer will not have to worry about the exception such as Amazon Go, because they will have already raised the bar for the retail industry’s rule, which is better shopping experiences. Thus, retailers should not rely solely on technology that eliminates roles, but tools to empower existing employees. Connecting people, shoppers and associates is the inherent advantage of the brick-and-mortar retailer.

While Amazon Go is “cool,” it is not the absolute future of retail, and replicating it would not be wise. Ultimately, Amazon Go’s store operations will fall in line with other novelty trends or ideas. It will be fun, but short-lived.

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