Amazon Go, Prime, Air and Locker: A Physical Presence for an Online Store
Amazon is working to create the future of grocery shopping through an app called Amazon Go. When we go shopping in many stores today, we have the option of going through the usual checkout line or going through self-checkout after grabbing the items we need. Going through the normal checkout line usually results in interaction with a cashier to purchase items while the self-checkout doesn’t really require interaction with a cashier, unless the machine acts up. Amazon Go changes that.
The app allows customers to grab the items they want to purchase, put them into their cart, and scan their phone on the way out. Customers are charged only for the items they have in their carts. There is no need for interaction with a cashier with the app.
The technologies used for the service are the same ones used in self-driving cars, according to Amazon Go’s website. If a product is taken off the shelf, the app knows. If that product is placed back on the shelf, the app knows. Once you’ve gotten everything you need, you can just walk out of the store. The items you purchased would be charged to your Amazon account, and you would receive a receipt for the purchase.
Just about anything can be purchased in the store. Customers can purchase grab and go meals, essential items or meal kits to prepare a meal for two. Purchasing items in the store is limited to Amazon employees in the beta program, but the company intends to open it to the public in 2017.
This comes alongside a push for Amazon to have more of a presence in cities. Amazon Prime Now allows users to order items through Amazon and have them delivered to their home within two hours. Restaurant orders can be delivered within one hour in select areas, including northern Virginia.
Reviews for Amazon Prime Now show that the biggest complaints are about the availability of the service. Many reviews talk about how the service is only available on smartphones and not on tablets or laptops. Other complaints involve how tips are given before the delivery is actually done, but some reviews state that the user can go back and edit the tip later once the delivery is made.
Amazon Prime Air will allow users to have the items they order within 30 minutes or less. Drones will handle the deliveries done through the service, but it is still in development. There are currently development centers in the U.S., the U.K., Austria and Israel with testing occurring in “multiple international locations.”
Amazon Locker lets customers pick up items delivered to the locker within three days of the item’s delivery to the locker. The lockers can be found in major cities in high density delivery areas. Locally, there are lockers that can be found in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Hampton and Newport News. Depending on the location, the lockers may only be open for certain hours, but there are some that are open 24 hours a day.
A 2014 review of Amazon Locker from PC World praises the system. Amazon Locker is not just about convenience, but it can also be about safety. If you don’t want a package to be left on your doorstep or have to go out of your way to pick up a package you missed the delivery for, you can have it sent to a locker instead. In addition, it keeps you from having to wait for a delivery driver, who may not come when you expect them to.
A 10-year-old ad was referenced on Reddit following Amazon Go’s announcement, according to AdAge. The ad was from IBM, and it featured similar technology to what Amazon Go uses today. Still, with many retailers still using traditional check out lines in conjunction with self-checkout, it is unlikely that companies will make an upgrade to the scale of Amazon Go’s trial in Seattle any time soon.