Amazon Go Foreshadows the ‘Experience Channel’
The latest thing from Amazon – a revamped bricks-and-mortar user experience – demonstrates the shift from what technology is to what technology can do to make our lives richer.
By Larry Walsh
If you’re like me, you hate grocery shopping. The effort of driving to the store, walking through the aisles to find what I need, unloading the shopping cart at the register, standing in line to pay, bagging everything, and then heading back out to the parking lot is pure drudgery.
Amazon, which disrupted every business model from bookselling to hosted data centers, is taking aim at this common pain point with its newest venture, Amazon Go. While the online conglomerate is already home-delivering groceries and other consumables, it’s now developing a new bricks-and-mortar model to compete directly with traditional food outlets.
But Amazon Go isn’t your typical A&P, Safeway, or Kroger. It lacks something that takes center stage at traditional markets: checkout lines and cash registers.
Watch the video; it’s amazing. Shoppers stride into a store, scan their Amazon Go app at a turnstile, put their phone away, and proceed to shop. Being environmentally friendly means bringing your own bags, but that’s part of the convenience. Shoppers just walk up and down the aisles, grabbing the things they need. When they finish, they simply walk out.
No scanning with bulky infrared wands. No waving packages over a scanner bed. No frustration while waiting for the person in front of you to find the discolored penny in their wallet. Just grab and go. (Check out the Amazon Go video, below.)
Amazon is testing its pilot Amazon Go store in Seattle, and, based on the released video, the concept is nothing short of brilliant. Through a combination of RFID sensors, high-density Wi-Fi networks, Big Data analytics, security, cloud computing, software-defined networks, and mobile and Internet of Things technologies, Amazon is building not just a next-generation grocery store, but a better customer experience.
While it’s unstated in the Amazon Go materials right now, it’s safe to assume the technology chain extends far beyond the physical store. If the technology can sense when products make their way from the shelf to the consumer’s bag, it can likely notify the warehouse when to ship more inventory and report sales numbers to the store’s home office in near-real time. That kind of logistical analytics would put Walmart to shame.
And this is the lesson of Amazon Go. It’s not about food distribution and retail, although Amazon may show the traditional grocers a thing or two. It’s not even about the technology, although technology is a catalyst. Rather, it’s about building a better, more satisfying user experience that entices users to enter and remain engaged.
A quiet revolution has been gaining momentum over the past couple of years. Technology’s value is shifting from what technology is to what technology can do to the outcome technology produces. IT hardware, software, cloud, and services are valueless, in and of themselves. What matters is what companies and individuals do with that technology to create something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
The days of selling technology are coming to a close. People and businesses will always need PCs, servers, and random applications. Most legacy technologies will become commoditized, and new technologies will depreciate in value shortly after hitting the market. Technology vendors and their partners will need to look beyond the box, and even the cloud, to do one of two things: make one plus one equal five or help innovative customers turn their technology dreams into reality.
Amazon Go is just one example of the automated and interconnected future that awaits us all. Making these ideas and concepts that build greater user experience a reality will require more than technology products and skills; it will require imagination.
The 2112 Group is exploring what the “Experience Channel” means to vendors and resellers, and how it will translate into new business models and value propositions. Recently, 2112 published a white paper on specialized channel partners (“Understanding & Leveraging Specialized Channels”), and we’re looking at how vendors and solution providers are leveraging technologies to create new models. Watch this space for our reports and analytics on how the “Experience Channel” will reshape the technology landscape.