The Peace Times

Amazon Cashier-less Store May or May Not Revolutionize Retail

Ethan McElvaney

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The first Amazon Go, a grocery store with no checkout lanes that lets the consumer grab items and leave, was highly successful on opening day in Seattle on Jan. 22. According to Business Insider, a massive line stretched around the block for the store that was sold on the idea of there being no lines.

In order to eliminate the need for cashiers, the store allows shoppers to scan a QR code onto their phone and then grab any item off the shelf to make their purchase. This process relies on a series of cameras and sensors that trigger shopper’s Amazon account to charge the item’s cost through their phone.

Weeks before Amazon Go officially launched, business publications such as Forbes and Bloomberg predicted that it could shake up the retail industry and that its success could be the death knell for millions of jobs.

However, as the euphoria has died down over the past few weeks since the opening in Seattle, time is showing that the idea of a future with clerk-less stores is unlikely to be as disruptive as Amazon hoped it would be.

Nick Harrison of the Harvard Business Review believes that it will be a decade or so until retail store automation, like that used in Amazon Go, will be adopted nationwide.

Harrison makes a point by citing the fact that ten years after the dawn of self-checkout lanes, that most people will still go to a checkout lane manned by a store clerk unless lines happen to be a huge hassle at the moment. Self-checkout lanes seem to be what are more commonly used in today’s society.

William Peace University students feel torn on the subject, as many as the convenience yet are highly skeptical of its grab-and-go nature.

Peace junior, Abdula Mansaraly, who is majoring in Business Administration has strong doubts about Amazon Go’s potential.

“I think it’s a ridiculous idea, I think people are going to steal and take things,” said Mansaraly, “you’ll need tough security for it to be successful and I don’t think there are enough Amazon accounts to make it work, the whole thing is too gimmicky”.

Mansaraly’s fears have proven to be true: on opening day, a CNBC reporter accidentally shoplifted a Siggi’s yogurt cup from Amazon Go. Both Siggi’s and Amazon told them they could keep it hours later according to CNBC’s report of the incident.

“I’m more excited about them delivering groceries to your home because what’s the point about going to the grocery store now,” said Matthew Hutzenbuhler, a junior Simulation and Game Design major at Peace.

People like him will not have to wait for that to happen, for ABC News reports that Amazon has already started giving Amazon Prime users the ability to order products from their Whole Foods grocery stores for delivery in two hours.

Amazon’s biggest international rival, China’s Alibaba, already has a supermarket chain with a similar premise dubbed “Hema” (Chinese for “Hippo”).

According to a Business Insider report, shoppers can walk into one of what will be 60 stores by the end of 2018 and be able to pick up whatever items they need, then check out with their smartphones or by going to a facial-recognition kiosk.

Both of these options rely on having an Alibaba account.  

Hema customers can also order whatever they need from the store in the comfort of their own home and have their order delivered to them in approximately 30 minutes.

Professor Ferreri of the Business Administration program at William Peace University doubts that Amazon Go will get very far past its initial store and has many hesitations about the entire cashier-less store concept.

“If it stays like a convenience store, then I don’t think it makes a whole lot of difference. Most people who are going to the store to buy a few quick things won’t interact much with people anyways,” said Ferreri.

In addition, he feels that with the lack of human connection at big-box retail stores (like Target or Walmart) that will occur by adding Amazon Go technology, that it would create a disadvantage to any business that would hope to stand out from their competition.

Overall, while Amazon Go’s concept is exciting to many, it is still uncertain whether Amazon Go will live up to the expectation that it will revolutionize the retail industry.

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Amazon Cashier-less Store May or May Not Revolutionize Retail