Amazon Go Hits The High Street

Ryan Willis

The opening of the new Amazon Go store in Seattle last month has seen a flurry of press about the amazing new technology and the convenient lack of lines and cashiers. While there is only one store for now, with the initial success of Seattle’s Amazon Go store, many are suggesting this is all part of the growing return of the high street.

What is Amazon Go?

Amazon Go is the latest project from the online retail giant to create brick and mortar stores on the high street. The difference, however, is the removal of cashiers, allowing shoppers to simply walk in, grab their purchases and leave without the need for queuing for cashiers. The stores rely on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. As they leave, the customers are billed using credit cards on file.

How Does it Work?

The whole experience revolves around the Amazon Go app. When shoppers enter the store, they scan the app at one of the entrance turnstiles. After which, they simply go up to the shelves, grab the required items, place it in their bag, and the app automatically adds all the items up — no scanning required. According to the Amazon spokesperson, its "Walk Out" technology uses "computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning" to monitor what has been purchased.

What About Staff?

Whilst Amazon has removed the need for cashiers, reports suggest that there is still helpful staff around the store to help visitors find items, explain the concept and be on hand for those teething troubles. Similarly, there was staff on-hand to check ID's for beer, wine and spirits and the fresh food counter was manned by chefs behind a glass panel for all to see. As such, it is not the job killer some doubters suggested.

Amazon Go and Merchandising

As you might expect, Amazon want to stand out in the marketplace, as such, they have opted for black shelving over the traditional white. This is not particularly new in the industry, as Nabco has been providing wire shelving and fruit and vegetable bays in black for years. However, this move may prompt other retailers to follow suit leading brands to change their packaging to standout on the new darker background. These darker shelving units will also increase the need for specialist LED lighting to ensure products look their best.

Is it the Future?

Not quite. The pilot store has highlighted both positives and negatives with many shoppers being happy to get in and out in around a minute, but some niggles with food stamps and vouchers has caused issues. Whilst shoplifting is nearly impossible, early tests have shown that the cameras have identified visitors with similar body types as possible shoplifters meaning further testing is yet to be undertaken. However, with more stores due to roll out over the coming years it will attract more visitors to the high street.

The Return of the High Street

Overall, the Amazon Go store has been a resounding success. The Amazon stock price has seen a positive increase since it's opening and the majority of shoppers said they would happily return to the store. With Amazon firmly focusing its attention on the high street, it supports the growing notion that the high street is on the verge of a new renaissance. We have already seen growth in specialist independent stores and a boom in the coffee shop culture. Deloitte also predicts positive growth in 2018 in the retail market and points to a trend in more unique and authentic high street experiences.

So whether it’s Amazon Go stores, or artisan delicatessens who are set to fill the high streets, Nabco are on hand to ensure they both have access to the best retail shelving available.

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