Traditional grocery shopping will be changing in a big way starting in 2017. Amazon has ventured away from their online domain to shake up the in-person shopping industry. On Monday, Amazon released a video showing off their newest project: Amazon Go. This store has eliminated checkouts, cash registers, and most importantly, lines. What better way to propel an industry into the future than fresh competition.
The traditional shopping experience, in particular grocery shopping, consists of shopping for items throughout the store, compiling a cart, and then waiting in line to pay for said items. Shoppers take an average of 1.6 trips to the grocery store per week, and a significant portion of that time is spent waiting in line. Amazon has integrated computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion to eliminate numerous pain points while shopping. The technology relies on cameras and microphones to monitor where customers travel in the store, what items they pick up or put back, and when they leave. Cash registers, checkouts, and lines have all been taken out of the equation. Not to mention the environmental impact stores like these will have. This Grab-and-Go approach encourages, if not requires, the usage of reusable bags by consumers. Furthermore, because receipts are emailed after the purchase rather than printed, paper is saved in that aspect as well. The stores suggested by Amazon will take up a mere 1,800 square feet, compared to the average supermarket size of 42,800 square feet. This size difference allows customers to get in and out in record time, as well as allows the surrounding area to be developed in other ways aside from retail.
Amazon isn't the only retail company to be experimenting with new technology, rivals such as Target and Wal-Mart have been looking into services that allow customers to order their items online and be ready for curbside pickup, eliminating the need to even go into the store. More and more stores have been exploring online purchasing, but so far it only represents about 1% of the $674 billion market for edible groceries in the U.S. This untapped market will likely expand, as online grocery shopping and in store pick ups become more popular. However, consumers are slow to change from their ways as far as food. Most consumers still prefer picking out their own groceries, especially when it comes to produce. By upping the involvement of technology within the store, like the installment of self-check out lanes within the past ten years, customers are able to make their own selections while also benefiting from advancements. Amazon's monitoring technology doesn't have to stop at grocery stores; retail stores of all kinds have the potential to benefit from the technology.