Amazon has this month launched ‘the world’s most advanced shopping technology’ – Amazon Go. Opening to the public in 2017, the Seattle based store has no checkouts, instead, customers must download the Amazon Go app to detect the items placed into their shopping baskets and bill them accordingly through their Amazon account.

But could we soon see this kind of innovation in retail in the other regions? Mintel analysts cash-in their thoughts.

delon Delon Wang, Manager of Trends, Asia Pacific:

“Amazon Go highlights the opportunities available for mobile payment technology. In China and Japan, retailers of varying sizes already offer the use of such payment technologies while the authorities in markets such as Thailand, Singapore and Australia have launched a slew of initiatives to accelerate the pace of adoption.

Amazon Go will find great potential in urban city centres where time is a luxury that many professionals do not possess. Having the option to purchase artisanal takeaway meals without having to worry about lengthy lines is an efficiency that many will be able to appreciate. Without a doubt, Amazon Go’s launch could revolutionise the entire retail industry, impacting supermarkets, convenience stores, fashion boutiques and even food service merchants.”

 

mattcMatthew Crabbe, Director of Research, Asia Pacific:

“This kind of technological innovation will certainly find its way into China. While consumers across Asia are stressed and pressed for time, there is room for ‘super-convenient’ product and service innovations to succeed.

However, people still like human customer service. Amazon’s technology may be efficient, but it lacks humanity and shoppers in the store may be nervous when walking out of the store for the first time as they have not taken part in the usual payment ritual. This is where retailers will need to re-purpose their store staff away from taking cash, but into customer service. It is interesting for instance that Amazon has placed emphasis on artisanal food, in-store kitchens and bakeries. This is where they can humanise stores with ‘specialist grocers’ – akin to the local high street greengrocers, butchers and bakers of days gone by.

Increasingly, as retail becomes more online-focused and tech-run, it will be the human element, the personal service, the friendly face of the company, and what the retail brand represents, that will become a key competitive differentiator, alongside price, product range and quality of products.”

 

Nick Carroll

Nick Carroll, Senior Retail Analyst:

“Given Amazon’s track record of using the UK as its European test bed, if Amazon is to launch Amazon Go on a wider scale you can bet the UK will play host to the first international Amazon Go store. So how would it ‘go’ down if Amazon is to roll out this format in the UK?

If the technology works as it should then it will add convenience to the shopping experience and this will be a major plus point for Amazon Go. The ability to seamlessly buy lunch or dinner will be clearly appealing to consumers and both its convenience rivals and foodservice providers will be keeping a keen eye on the success of this technology.

The new format could also alleviate some annoyances that consumers currently have with grocery shopping. Without the need to man checkouts staff will be freed up to ensure greater availability, and a loyalty scheme could be tied to the Amazon Go app, but quality and range will be scrutinised in much the same way as it always has been.

However there are areas that Amazon Go could lessen, or indeed eradicate, complaints around. Waiting time at checkouts is in theory solved with the automatic checkout system and, like availability, overall customer service could be boosted thanks to staff being freed from checkouts.”

 

R-Cope-image-circleRichard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant:

“In Europe we’ve seen cashless grocery stores from brands before, but this clearly ups the ante. The principles of cashless and staffless retail liberate retailers from security issues and allow them to focus on customer – rather than merely transactional – service.

Mintel’s Seamless Spending Trend and 2017 EMEA prediction is driven by an all-consuming desire for speed and convenience and this will ultimately see many jobs for younger people go by the wayside. There is a parallel here with another 2017 EMEA prediction Talking Shop, where AI chatbots on social media messenger services are supplanting humans. The needs of an ageing population will eventually accelerate online delivery schemes, but right now the demands of high-speed, on-the-hoof urban populations are making convenience stores the fastest-growing grocery format and this innovative store – in common with Co-Op Italia’s newly-opened ‘store of the future’ at the Milan University Campus – meets the demands of an increasingly fluid, urban consumer.”

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