After reviewing dozens (!) pages of notes, I finally summarized SXSW'17. It’s always pretty tough for...
SXSW 2017: Key topics and conclusions
The futuristic Amazon Go project has long been in the sphere of “moonshots” ideas. This fully-automated, maintenance-free and lineless shop in Seattle for over a year was tested only by Amazon employees. It allowed to eliminate, among others, a critical problem namely the throng. Too many people in the shop (it was about more than 20 customers) caused that the system packed with cameras, sensors on the shelves and self-learning algorithms stopped working properly.
From Monday, an experimental shop that operates according to the principle “take it from the shelf and exit” is open to all customers. Although it is still a pilot programme, users logged in the Amazon Go application can make purchases in it, and the payment for “taken” products will be charged in the background, from the credit card attached to the account. A quick opening of the shop for crowds, apart from PR and financial benefits (I know, this is minor for Amazon) has one more goal: to practice algorithms responsible for tracking changes in the shop. It is about customers’ behaviour during shopping and the control of the assortment – how many goods were removed from the shelves, how much was left, how many things were taken and set aside in a different place, etc. According to Amazon experts, the technology used in the prototype shop for such tracking is already “very accurate” (the video below shows how adding and removing products from the virtual shopping trolley works). This may give grounds to this commercial tycoon to implement it in the next Amazon Go outlets (they are in the plan) or in one of 465 Whole Foods stores, the US supermarket chain, which Amazon took over last year for 13.7 billion dollars.
Now open in Seattle! Amazon Go is a new kind of store featuring the world’s most advanced shopping technology. No lines, no checkout – just grab and go! Get the app at http://amazon.com/go
Plans to automate sales in physical shops, and thus the development of unmanned shops, may raise the concerns of a large part of the American society for now. The seller and the cashier are, respectively, the 1st and 2nd most popular profession in the United States, a total of about 8.3 million employees (data from 2016 for the US Department of Labour). Until now, Jeff Bezos, when asked about a project that could in the future deprive tens of thousands of Americans of work, says it’s just tests. Soon, the prototype approach may go into oblivion, and with it will also change the Amazon CEO’s rhetoric. In the end, no one abandons an innovative and pricey pilot program that has successfully passed into the consumer testing phase. The year 2018 should also give an answer whether customers liked this way of shopping.
It is worth noting that although it is the most advanced seamless shop design, it is not the only one. Earlier, BingoBox started presenting its unmanned, and also mobile shops. The company has already opened 200 such points in 29 Chinese cities, the goal is 5,000 shops.
Is this China’s version of Amazon Go? Completely staff-less stores empowered totally through WeChat. Check out the full post to accompany this video at: http://chinachannel.co/wechat-store-amazon-go-china/
The concept of the mobile shop of the future is also pushed forward by the Wheelys 24/7, which opened the first shop in Stockholm and Shanghai. Soon, they are intended to go into mass production, so any brand that thinks about its own unmanned shop will be able to buy it.
Uploaded by Wheelys Cafe on 2017-12-14.
In China the French chain Auchan has launched the first unmanned shop, controlled 100% from a smartphone. There are plans to open a minimum of several hundred such places.
Importantly, in addition to the Chinese offensive (where investments for testing in the area of checkout-free shops in 2017 amounted to about 168 million dollars), also in Europe the direction of fully self-service shops is gaining momentum. Sainsbury is testing this type of service in London, as does the Irish Everseen. Coop in Denmark plans to open the first unmanned shop in the first quarter of 2018.