The world of shopping has definitely been shifted towards ecommerce in recent times. More and more people are shopping online and enjoying the convenience of having everything they need delivered to their doorstep. Statista predicts that ecommerce is expected to reach $1.2 trillion in sales this year. However, despite online shopping growth, brick and mortar stores aren’t being neglected in the technological upheaval. New technology from Amazon’s Just Walk Out enables shoppers to walk out of a store with their goods without waiting in lines, going to a cashier, or interacting with store employees if they don’t want to.
Travel convenience store retailer Hudson recently announced a partnership with Amazon to introduce the technology into their stores, facilitating a grab-and-go, contactless shopping experience. This technology could change shopping and provide store owners with more customer data to personalize the customer experience. To understand the possibilities that await, we spoke to both marketing and technology executives to find out more about the technology.
How Does Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology Work?
Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology ensures that you never have to wait in line while shopping. Using similar computer vision, deep learning and sensor fusion technologies as those found in self-driving cars, Amazon makes the check-out free experience a reality.
Shoppers simply need to enter a store, choose what they want and then leave. While this creates a convenient shopping experience for customers, some initial setup work is required on the customer’s part. Shoppers don’t need to have an Amazon account or sign up for an app, but they must have a credit card if they want to shop at a store that facilitates the Just Walk Out technology.
The technology can detect which products are taken from or returned to shelves, and everything is kept track of in a virtual cart. The shopper simply needs to walk out of the store, and the credit card is charged. If they need a receipt, a kiosk within the store can be used to record their email address, and one can be emailed to them.
Amazon Go and Amazon Go Grocery were the first stores to feature this technology but to shop at these locations an Amazon account is required. However, Amazon is now licensing the Just Walk Out technology to other retailers, even though they won’t be able to open their own Amazon Go locations.
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New Behavioral Data Will Add Insights
Given the penchant which major technology companies have for collecting customer data, many wonder what data could be collected and what it might mean for their data and potential personalization.
According to Akram Assaf, Co-Founder & CTO at UAE-based job board website Bayt consumers shouldn’t have to worry about their data. “I don’t believe Amazon’s Just Walk Out will impact data collection by a lot. The technology only collects the necessary data to provide a receipt, and that’s something that the stores already had in the past,” he said.
But even though Amazon won’t be collecting additional data, the retailers that license the technology from Amazon will have some new insights to draw from. “Store owners will be able to see some new interesting data. Like how many shoppers take and then return the product without buying it. This kind of data will certainly impact the industry,” he added.
Amazon has been pioneering changes in commerce for quite some time and CMO of NY-based advertising company Mediaocean Aaron Goldman believes that this will simply blend the online and offline worlds more closely. “The company has proven that purchase data is one of the most valuable signals for targeting in-market consumers. To date, much of what Amazon has offered to third parties from an advertising standpoint has been limited to online data but Just Walk Out technology extends the opportunity to bricks-and-mortar,” said Goldman.
What’s Next for Amazon Go?
So given the possibilities that await if this technology is heavily adopted, the question remains how this might play into Amazon’s overall strategy. They could completely shift to partnering with retailers, licensing them the technology, or continuing to roll out more Amazon Go stores themselves.
Assaf believes the likely scenario is that they choose to do both. “This is a huge step forward for retail shopping, and Amazon will certainly try their best to conquer the market. Depending on how good or convenient the Just Walk Out technology is, a lot of consumers will want to have it as the standard shopping experience,” he said.
For Goldman, we will see just how impactful this technology is once things worldwide return to some level of normalcy. “As we come out on the other side of the pandemic and experience a return to retail, the ability to connect online and offline data will be critical to success for omnichannel advertising.”