Amazon Go: Is This The End of Waiting In Grocery Lines?

Nobody likes to wait in line. Whether it’s standing in line for an amusement park ride, queuing up at the doctor’s office or stuck in traffic -- nobody wants to wait for something that they want right now.

Waiting in line at the grocery store is an unpleasant reality for most people. After pushing a heavy metal cart around the store while being serenaded by sleep-inducing 70’s music, too often you are left to play checkout line bingo. Unfortunately, if you choose the slow moving checkout line, you will wait and wait to unload your groceries so they can be scanned and bagged. Grocery stores and other retailers have tried many ways to alleviate these delays with express checkout lanes (no more than 10 items, please!), barcode scanning wands that are attached to carts, RFID chips and smart pay solutions like Google Wallet and Apple Pay. These solutions only slightly alleviate the problem. By far, the worst solution is the dreaded self-checkout lanes. These shiny and usually very empty lanes beckon you, “We are open, come to us, come to us...” But, like the sirens’ songs to Odysseus, self-checkout lanes have proven to be as disastrous as rocky shore lines are to mariners – technologically deficient, often resulting in longer waits than traditional checkout lanes. It is no surprise that shoppers don’t use them.

In an effort to minimize wait times, online retailer and cloud service provider, Amazon, recently announced Amazon Go, a grocery store prototype that flips traditional grocery shopping on its head. Amazon calls the concept, “Just Walk Out Shopping.” Customers can walk into the store, scan their Amazon mobile app at the entrance, pick out their groceries and then just walk out of the store – skipping a checkout line completely. Amazon Go stores use cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence to tell which direction customers are looking as they make their food choices. Amazon automatically bills the account through the customer’s mobile app. No waiting in line, no cashiers, no fuss.

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Amazon is essentially improving the customer experience in exchange for customer data. Amazon and other retailers already do this online as they track click history, deciding what to buy and what not to buy. With Amazon Go, the company can use all that customer tracking data to improve product selection, pricing efficiency and store layout by monitoring how each consumer moves through the store. If successful, Amazon will raise the bar on the retail grocery experience.

Grocery stores, as well as all brick and mortar retailers, might not be able to match the technological prowess of Amazon but they can see the direction they are headed. Retailers should look for ways to eliminate the friction and the frustration from their own customer experience. Examples already exist today including Wal-Mart entrance and exit greeters, free hot chocolate for skiers waiting for the ski lifts, airline clerks prioritizing passengers who have pending flights, rental car clerks with mobile checkout devices, line signage reminders and online appointment/booking solutions.

Online appointment solutions, like ours, allow companies to offer a choice to consumers how they can schedule the appointment time in advance and providing the company an opportunity to have the appropriate staff on hand – minimizing the chance that the consumer will have to wait in line. Our software allows consumers to easily change their appointment time and choose how they would like to be reminded of it. We, like Amazon, believe that there is always a way to mitigate the likelihood of standing line.

Don’t you have better things to do than wait in line?

Learn about other technologies changing how customers shop by downloading our free eBook, The Tech Helping Retailers Increase In-store Conversions, here.

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