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Amazon Go(es) after Starbucks

July 16, 2018 by Raj B. Shroff

I had a few hours in Seattle last Sunday morning so I visited Go.

In case you’ve not been, you download the “Go” App, sign in using Amazon credentials and then scan your bar code into a turn style like device. I was with two other people so let them in and the three of us were now shopping under my Amazon account.

The store was smaller than I anticipated but overall a pretty nice, modern design. But while everyone seems to be reacting to the technology of just walking out, I couldn’t help but to think there’s something bigger here. In urban settings, the competitive set of quick and healthy food options generally means heading to a restaurant, getting food delivered or in big cities, heading to Whole Foods, a Co-Op or other local grocer. There aren’t m(any) convenient stores like Amazon Go which are so trusted, easy to get in and out of and offer healthy options that are prepared on the spot or nearby.

Walking away, I had visions of Amazon Go’s popping up on every street corner. Those visions had Amazon competing with Starbucks’ third place. And while we tend to think those third places need human associates to create warmth (think your name written on a cup), I would argue that digital natives might not have that strong of a need for the physical connection. For them, connections can be made through chat, text or streaming and the vibe from others in the space.

The Go has a really small dine-in area — technically it’s probably just a staging space where you can heat up food, get utensils, etc. But if they add a little bit more seating, suddenly you have a small and pleasant community hub, a space people visit daily. And, according to my friend John, maybe it’s the new community kitchen.

What I want you to takeaway is be weary of thinking that the Amazon Go story is solely about technology and checkout free stores. Sure, that’s part of it, but I would argue a smaller part than most assume.

It is nice to just walk out of a store. However, when automated checkout technology is ubiquitous, what’s going to bring you back again and again? The answer to that gives us a roadmap of where Amazon will Go.

Good Food Fast
I do, thanks for offering.
Sunday morning at 8 AM, time to restock

Glad to have finally checked the Go off my visit list, especially after a recent immersion trip to China. I’ll be excited to see what transpires from here. Shoot me an email if you have thoughts to share: raj.shroff@pinesd.com.