Hamed Wardak, Entrepreneur
Self-checkout remains a controversial topic for shoppers at many different chain stores, big box, and grocers. Some customers love the convenience of self-checkout, while others see it as a way for brands to save money by cutting jobs. Still others resent being asked to “work” while paying for their merchandise.
Despite the ongoing conversation, many retailers have begun to expand their self-checkout options, and one major retailer is in the process of going all-in. Amazon, which has already revolutionized how people buy books, then followed that up by transforming how people buy just about everything, has shifted its attention to supermarkets.
In a recent announcement, Amazon said its new store would not have cashiers at all, but, in an extra dash of innovation, the stores won’t have registers either. According to reports, customers will be able to walk in, buy what they want to buy, then walk out without ever having to wait in line. How does that work? Customers scan a smartphone app as they enter the store. Sensors track what they pick up, and chosen items are charged to their Amazon account.
Test groups said they love the convenience of “grabbing and going” at “Amazon Go Grocery” without having to slow down their day. Stores stock many traditional grocery items, along with sandwiches, drinks, and other convenience store staples.
But what about items typically purchased by weight? Produce and such? They have that covered too. Fruit is charged individually. Nothing is weighed.
The new cashier-less stores are just one way Amazon is taking the grocery marketplace by storm. The company purchased Whole Foods back in 2017, it has announced plans to expand online grocery delivery, and has announced the company will debut yet another kind of grocery store sometime soon, though this one will not be cashier-less.
One of the challenges Amazon is facing in phasing in more cashier-less stores is coming from lawmakers in certain cities where Amazon would like to open stores. These elected officials argue that cashier-less stores “discriminate” against some shoppers who may not have bank accounts or credit cards. In response, Amazon has said it would allow concerned shoppers to pay cash by alerting employees.
This trend is not just in grocery, and all of it will be managed and promoted using digital PR connected to smartphones and other mobile devices. As more consumers embrace an insta-pay, app-based consumer process, brands need to take advantage of the digital marketing opportunities presented.