Yesterday, Amazon finally opened its register free grocery store in Seattle and it looks like the store will be here to stay.
The main concept of Amazon Go is that any customers who walk in the store can shop, put their items in their basket, and walk out. All without having to wait in line to check out. Sounds pretty good right? This amazing technological step forward is only the beginning. Could this mean the end of retail employees as we know them? I wouldn't spell doom just yet.
How it works
All of this is possible due to special technology (similar to what is found in self-driving cars) that detects exactly what items are put into a customer's basket. People are only charged for what they take out of the store. This all seems super futuristic, but trust me, it's happening. A shopper's dream has come true. Enter the store, get your stuff, and get out. No check out required. As simple an idea as it is, there are some issues.
Possible and real problems
There are unfortunately already reports that long lines have formed outside of the Amazon store. These are people dying to get in to see the novel concept in action. It's ironic, since Amazon had prided itself on not having lines. Hopefully, once enough people have seen the place, lines will diminish.
Another problem is the employees. Many Americans depend upon retail jobs and being cashiers. What will happen to them in the face of the autonomous store if other retailers adopt similar models?
Not as bad as it sounds
Don't worry. Cashier jobs might disappear, but there are still plenty of other jobs. Amazon Go stores are not completely automated. They still need employees to stock the shelves, clean, and assist customers. No robot can determine if a shelf display is aesthetically pleasing (at least not yet).
Even if Amazon Go takes off, it could be years before other retailers catch on and develop similar technology. Thus people are required in retail for the time being. So kick back and enjoy the seamless check out process (or lack there of).
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.