Today’s launch of the prototype Amazon Go store – featuring “no checkout” transactions — is a landmark achievement with many implications for what might be called “seamless shopping.” In our estimation, it not only will impact payments, but promotions, loyalty services and grocery data services.
Amazon’s check-out feature mixes mobile account check-ins; comprehensive camera “eyes”; and an advanced version of the hotel minibar technology that can tell when you’ve picked up an item. It provides customers with instant e-receipts, and greatly speeds up the shopping process, encouraging more repeat visits.
While Amazon Go represents a disruptive improvement on self-checkout lines. It is also – quite possibly — a compelling new direction for Amazon’s Whole Foods. It is most exciting, however, to think of Amazon Go triggering a new generation of transactions and marketing.
It stands alongside Amazon’s other major impulse initiatives (i.e. Voice ordering, Prime Now two hour delivery and, uh, in-home “Dash” ordering buttons for Tide, Doritos, Milk-Bone dog biscuits and other products. But Amazon’s take it-and-leave technology will finally give traction to the card linking, promotional and loyalty capabilities that members of the Card Linx Association and others have been pushing for several years.
Because customers are automatically checked in when they enter the store, Amazon gains a comprehensive understanding of their shopping behaviors. What does this mean? Even free samples will lead to follow-on surveys and promotions. Amazon will also be able to provide perfect slotting data for food and drug brands and more targeted, even live coupons. Some of this may coordinate or compete with the mapping of stores by Aisle411 and others that follow customer journeys.
Finally, it represents an obvious push into the new wave of digital payments. As such, Amazon Go may represent a threat to the hopes of Apple Pay and Google Wallet, which have both targeted grocery stores – Whole Foods represents a significant percentage of Apple Pay usage. The combination of Prime membership, local incentives and loyalty services may be enough to finally represent the whole troika of customer services and needs.