Amazon outlines vision for ‘reinventing the physical store’

Amazon has outlined its plans to ‘reinvent the physical store’ with its Just Walk Out till-free technology.

Speaking at the Retail Technology show at London’s Olympia, Max Gill, EMEA lead for Amazon’s Physical Retail Technologies, explained how over the course of the past decade the company has created its till-free proposition.

Just Walk Out uses customer authentication at the store entrance, via app or credit card; then a series of sensors in the store, sophisticated enough to monitor what a customer picks up from the shelf, puts onto the shelf and then decides to buy.

They can then walk out of the store with the goods they have chosen, without having to queue for any kind of till.

Staff in the store are free to help resolve any customer queries and carry out other tasks.

Gill said transactions made using this system also provide a rich stream of data for the retailer about individual customer preferences and behaviour in the store – and the range of sensors and cameras in use should help reduce shrinkage.

Outlining his aim for Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, Gill said: “I believe I’ve got the best job in retail technology … trying to reinvent the physical store”.

He added that Amazon wanted to bring the same degree of convenience to shopping in the store that one-click shopping allows online via Amazon.

Retailers that have implemented Just Walk Out since its official launch in March 2020, in stores of varying sizes from a few hundred square feet to large format superstores, include: the US retailer Hudson, Sainsbury’s SmartShop Pick & Go at Holborn in central London, concession retailers in a range of other locations including airports, casinos and entertainment or sports arenas; and Amazon’s own Go and Fresh grocery and convenience stores.

Further developments in the UK are expected to follow.

Gill said that customer and retailer feedback suggested both saw big advantages in removing tills and queues and enabling a shopping experience that aligns with consumer expectations, offering additional speed, convenience and use of contactless technologies.

“Covid-19 has driven a desire for customers to avoid friction and contact where possible,” he said.

He showed how the proposition can be applied in a retrofitted store, as well as new build stores.

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