Technology is advancing rapidly in every industry and the tech giant, Amazon, included the retailing industry as well by introducing Amazon Go stores in different parts of the United States. Current Amazon Go Store locations include three stores each in Seattle and Chicago and one store in San Francisco. Let us dig deeper into the Amazon cashless store to understand what it really is, the problems it is facing and Amazon’s possible future plans related to the technology.
What is Amazon’s Cashier-less Technology?
Call it a cashier-less technology, a cashless store or a no-checkout store, Amazon Go stores have surely taken the consumers by storm. Currently, these Amazon stores do not sell much and you will only find items like drinks, snacks, ready-made food, grocery and frozen food which makes it smaller than the ordinary store you might go to for grocery shopping. This also means that if you need to get something more than just snacks and lunch, the Amazon stores might not be useful at all.
The real question in your minds right now would be that how is the purchasing done without any cash or card transactions at the checkout counter? The process is simple but uses some highly advanced artificial intelligence and technology in stores. You need to use the Amazon Go app to enter the store after which a combination of sensors and cameras track what you pick from shelves and add to your bag. It also tracks what you place back on shelves in case you change your mind regarding purchase decisions!
Once you are done shopping and leave Amazon Cashless store, the total amount is calculated and charged on your credit card. The entire system does sound great but comes with a lot of loopholes that Amazon is testing via larger stores.
Persisting Problem of Amazon Cashless Store
While the technology sounds great and easy to implement, Amazon is reported to face problems implementing it in large stores with more items. Currently, all Amazon stores are less than or equal to 3500 square feet and it is difficult to track purchases in larger stores with a higher ceiling.
It is reported that Amazon’s goal is to expand this technology to its Whole Foods range which would require larger store size but that might not happen any time soon unless Amazon decides to speed up the process. A beacon of hope for innovators could be the fact that other tech giants like Walmart and Microsoft are also trying to adopt the cashless system in brick-and-mortar stores. This means that the loopholes can be fixed faster than it would have been otherwise.
To broadly state the major problem in expanding the Amazon stores and introducing Whole Foods line, it is sufficient to say that this would not only require consumers to be accepting of such a major technological change but also of the cultural and habitual change. A lot of consumers tend to have conversations with cashiers when buying Whole Food items and that facility would be absent in Amazon Go stores, let alone the tracking problem. Keeping these problems in mind, witnessing a larger Amazon Go store in near future is highly unlikely but Amazon, being a tech giant, will surely work on it.
Popularity of Self-Checkout
While Amazon cashless store might seem like the only high-tech convenience facility in the retail industry, there are many other self-checkout stores in different parts of the world especially China. Some small ventures are using radio-frequency identification tags, also known as RFID tags, to carry out the self-checkout process in convenience stores. It might not be as technologically innovative as the cashier-less system by Amazon but a similar system has already taken off in China!
Many other tech giants including JD is planning to introduce the checkout process using facial recognition, RFID tags, QR codes and similar methods. Alibaba, Tencent, and other giants are also likely to enter this race in the near future so the retailing sector is about to evolve entirely within a few years.
It is reported that the Amazon Cashless store system is being tested on larger stores now to dig into the loopholes and finally introduce Amazon stores of different sizes. The goal is to establish 3000 stores by 2021 so that Amazon is able to compete with other retail giants like CVS and Walmart. This seems nearly impossible to achieve given that currently only 7 small Amazon stores exist and a lot of work needs to be done before more stores of different sizes can finally come into existence.
To wrap it up, Amazon has always contributed significantly to technological advancements and this is something similar by the tech giant for the retail sector. Despite some loopholes that need to be eliminated, Amazon Go stores have a lot of potentials and can make the retail process fun and convenient. Once Amazon is able to figure out how the cashier-less system would work flawlessly in larger stores, it would take no time for Amazon to achieve its goal within the targeted time duration.