Amazon opened Amazon Go in Seattle in January. As media planners, we were fascinated by what we read about the new “Just Walk Out” technology. How would it work? How would it change the way American’s shopped? How would it affect the purchase journey? We needed to experience this unique shopping opportunity first hand. Thankfully, The Media Kitchen held a contest to select two staffers to visit the store and report back (including a live stream from the premises!). We won, and this is our account of the amazing experience that made clear retail will be even further disrupted by Amazon.
As we each arrived in Seattle and explored the city, Amazon’s footprint was everywhere. The Go store itself is located in the heart of Amazon’s campus right next to the iconic plant filled sphere-like workspaces that embody the company name. They really created an Amazon forest. After taking several shopping trips through the store and testing the technology, we had five jaw dropping reactions from our experience.
Flawless Accuracy & Execution Gives Way To Trust
When we first arrived, we were skeptical and wanted to see if we could fool the system (we think everyone tries to). We couldn’t. We shopped the store multiple times and each time we left, we immediately got an accurate receipt. We were blown away at how fast Amazon was able to do this. Remember the first time you used an ATM machine? You counted your cash. Now who does that? Same thing with Amazon Go. Not once were we charged for an item we didn’t take out of the store.
There’s a Robust Selection of Premium Meal Kits
The food was really really good. We were expecting a poorer quality that typically accompanies the most convenient food options. That didn’t happen. Amazon Go sells products you can’t find in any other grocery outlet. Within the store, customers are able to purchase Amazon Meal Kits similar to the online options from Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. These single dish kits feature high quality recipes – ranging from Lamb Ragu with Ricotta, Mint & Casarece Pasta to Kung Pao Chicken with Cashews & Gai Lan. Amazon has successfully brought what was once primarily an online only option, offline.
Don’t Take Down That For Hire Sign Just Yet
In-store support still maters a lot, even if they’re not cashiers. Two employees were stationed at the front to help new customers understand how the store works (and perhaps to provide an added layer of security). There were 1-2 employees stocking shelves and another employee checking IDs in the liquor section. Multiple chefs were also working in openly visible kitchens to prepare the food. It felt no matter where we turned someone was able to assist us, and we had lots of questions, probably more than most shoppers.
There’s A Real Commitment To Sustainability
Every other store, including Whole Foods and those like it, charge for reusable bags. Not at Amazon Go. In fact you can use as many as you need. In our opinion, this simple touch gave us a big smile and made a difference.
Good, Cheap, & Fast
Amazon Go is clearly a hybrid store delivering on lots of shopping needs. Customers can do extensive grocery shopping (without having to take out a second mortgage) and there’s a plentiful prepared section for weekday lunchtime crowds. While other stores are able to provide two of these three traits, rarely does quick service accompany quality offerings at friendly prices. The strength of this store is that it provides the convenience of whatever shopping experience a customer needs at a reasonable cost, without any of the time constraints. And a fast check out that still surprises and delights.
When we reported back to The Media Kitchen, everyone was curious about how Amazon would use the data being volunteered by shoppers. We didn’t see any evidence to support that Amazon was, but given how quickly we got our receipts it’s clear that data is flying around the store and through Amazon’s servers very quickly. Additionally, before this experience Amazon already knew a lot about us through our online shopping; now they know even more. They know about our offline grocery experience and also watched us make grocery decisions as we looked at ingredients, calories and prices. They even have a better understanding how we put meals together starting with the salad, working through the entre, and sides (and that we didn’t buy dessert).
It’s clear Amazon just disrupted the shopping experience, raised the bar and along the way learned a lot more about us. Given the experience we were happy to let them learn whatever they wanted.