Instructor: Aleksi Aaltonen, Section 002

The Future of Retail

Amazon Go has been open to the public since January of 2018, and the foundation of the business is to make things simpler and quicker for the customer. While using machine learning, artificial intelligence and other technologies, the store allows the customer to go in, grab what they want, and walk out. With everything connected, from the Amazon Go App to the hundreds of cameras inside of the store, to the sensors and RFID readers, it shows how intricately related everything is. The system detects when the shopper picks up and item and adds the item to the shopper’s virtual cart.

If companies get on the Amazon Go wave, it could possibly change retail forever. It is collecting an enormous amount of information and using it to its advantage. There are other companies looking to battle Amazon, specifically Microsoft, who is developing technology for cashierless point of sale systems. If Microsoft were to create and patent this technology, they would be able to sell it to different retailers. A venture capital firm believe this market could be worth about $50 billion, so it is a matter of time before this becomes the future of retail and grocery stores.

Its interesting to think about how this store is set up behind the scenes. We learn a lot about processes and the different kind of systems a business would use, but Amazon Go is taking it to a different level. As time goes by and Amazon fixes some of the problems they might have, there can be entirely new systems coming into the market that a tech company similar to Amazon will use.

6 Responses to The Future of Retail

  • I think this is a really interesting concept and something we will definitely see in the future pretty regularly. It would be interesting to see how this idea would work in a store that has tons of people in it like Walmart or Target rather than a small Amazon store. I agree that if Microsoft could patent this cashier-less technology they could sell it to a lot of other companies but doesn’t cashier-less technology already exist? I can use the self checkout at my local grocery store so if Microsoft’s tech isn’t better than the Amazon version which allows me to simply walk out of the store with all of my products, I find it hard to believe Microsoft or anyone could compete with Amazon.

  • Why do you think Amazon is doing this? There is a clear strategic objective behind the move, I think.

    • I agree that it is a strategic move. Fatima’s points hint that Amazon Go is merely a pilot to prove the technology to the market. Maybe the end game is actually to sell the technology to retailers. This seems more lucrative than trying to enter the brick and mortar retail market, although they have done this with Whole Foods through acquisition. However, if we view the Whole Foods acquisition as the next phase of the pilot, Amazon can test both it’s technological capability in supply chain management while scaling up self-checkout to a much bigger use case beyond the convenience store to grocery. With AWS, self-checkout, and shopping cart AI, Amazon is moving forward as a firm that specializes in technology rather than products. Perhaps they want to be the primary technology vendor to brick and mortar retailers.

      Can Amazon represent both the death and rebirth of brick and mortar retail? Ubiquitous self-checkout technology could be Amazon’s second wave of disruption in the retail industry.

  • It is really amazing to see how innovative Amazon really is, they are changing retail as a whole, online and physical stores. Do you think Amazon should have ditched their Amazon Go stores, and instead just sold the idea as a services to larger chains such as Walmart, Target, Home Depot, etc?

  • It is interesting to consider the future of brick and mortar stores. Considering the online retailing industry has completely reshaped the average consumer shopping experience, Amazon is taking on innovative initiatives to expand into the physical shopping experience aside from the virtual one. Amazon is truly determined to become the alpha of retail and this initiative is exacerbated through innovative technology. Although online retail is a giant industry, according to Forbes, 9 out of 10 dollars spent in the US is at physical stores. Offline retail is clearly an uncharted territory for Amazon which is probably the greatest driver for the company. With the introduction of this technology, it will also show how fast-paced society is becoming with the increase in efficiency of shopping and elimination for the need of long lines at registers, or registers altogether. This seems appropriate given Amazon’s speedy service.

  • I think if Amazon Go becomes successful and is a groundbreaking method in retail, it will be interesting to see how disruptive innovation takes form within the retail market. I, personally, don’t believe that it will be much of a factor due to the uniqueness and groundbreaking idea that Amazon has. Although I think it is not likely that this will succeed because no retailer has been able to make a dent in this specific retail market. I wouldn’t put anything past Amazon since they continue to amaze with their technology, but I believe there are too many challenges for now.

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