Groceries to go
First came the self-scan check out stations at places like Walmart and other groceries. Don’t feel like talking to a cashier? Check yourself out.
But Amazon plans to take the concept to the next level. Next year they’ll open Amazon Go, a grocery store with “no lines and no checkout.” Using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, an app that you scan upon entering the store will track everything you put in your basket, and charge your Amazon account after you walk out, having fully avoided both lines and human interactions. The app can even track items you put in your cart, then put back on the shelf.
The offensive players
Should other grocers be worried? Costco isn’t. In fact, according to Costco CFO Richard Galanti, they sort of already tried it. Said Galanti, “In terms of scan-and-go, honestly, we’ve had a version of scan-and-go literally 20 years ago.” Costco customers would pick up a radio frequency device, then scan their own items as they shop. They then delivered the device to the cashier, who printed a receipt.
Okay, so it’s not exactly the same as Amazon Go, but the point is, Costco isn’t going to panic over Amazon’s new technology. According to Galanti, Costco will keep its eye on Amazon, because they “want to make sure we understand what all of these people are doing,” but “we’re looking at these things offensively, not defensively at this point.”
The defensive players
But what about smaller grocery businesses who don’t have the capital to compete with Amazon’s technology?
Any business that grows to the colossal size of Amazon is going to draw both lovers and haters. We love their extensive merchandise listing, their free shipping, and fast delivery. But will they eventually replace local brick-and-mortar retailers? Heaven forbid.
Rather than massacring America’s mom-and-pop stores, the company should white label their shop-and-go app technology and sell it to other retailers. That way they can still make bank on the tech without wiping out small businesses.
However, considering that Amazon will turn a profit on every single product they sell in their Go store, it’s unlikely that the company will want to share their invention with competitors.
Don’t forget to tip your grocery bagger this holiday season – (s)he may be out of a job in coming years.