Does Amazon Go sign the death of traditional grocery shopping?

As retail companies are trying to integrate digital technologies and innovative process into their business, former pure player Amazon strikes hard with the introduction of Amazon Go.

Amazon Go is the first check-out free shopping experience: simply enter a shop, grab your items and leave. Using a blend of technologies like sensor fusion, which captures the orientation of an item in 3D, Amazon Go allows to just grab your groceries and automatically add them to your virtual shopping cart. When you leave, your saved bank details are used to charge you – simple as that. Amazing, right?

I think this development is highly interesting – not so much for the technology is uses, but for showing that physical shopping is not dead and just needs to be improved with a blend of technology to become more convenient and relevant for busy, hyper connected consumers.

Seeing a pure player come to the physical space, however has big implications for traditional retailers, and not only pleasant ones. First, Amazon enjoys strong popularity and reputation as a top service provider. They can build on this existing image to bypass all awareness and reputation building with their physical store and steal mind shares from traditional retailers. Second, as some industry experts point out, this poses a major threat to physical business models relying on cashiers, and some fear the job loss implications of the Amazon Go format. Third, pure players like Amazon have long mastered the art of managing big consumer data: another competitive advantage compared to many physical retailers still struggling with this practice.

I think however that such models are only the next step of improved shopping experiences. Self-check out already exist everywhere, some people purchase in-store on their mobile apps, others prefer ordering from home and picking up, or being delivered with Amazon Dash. I think Amazon Go is not the death of physical stores and jobs, quite the opposite. It only creates a different kind of experience to accommodate the needs and preferences of highly hybrid, urban and busy shoppers.

The first pilot store has been launched in Seattle but is not open to the public yet – the plan is top open over 2000 shops in the introductory phase according to the Wall Street Journal. I cannot wait to see it open in Europe. Let’s hope it’s before 2030!

Luxury: immediate boarding to the “phygital” store?

A post by Chloé RIGOMIER, MSc student in Digital Marketing, @KEDGE Business School. 

Who has never hesitated to enter in a luxury shop, frightened by so much prestige and coldness? I definitely have (in spite of the fact that I love luxury), and I’m sure you have too! Strangely, we speak about a place of contact with the customers, a showcase for the image of luxury brands. Dissuasive guards, immense and spotless shops, absence of prices, rarity of products… Everything is reunited to institute a distance with the customer. Yet, luxury brands use these spaces to demonstrate their power: the surface must be the most spacious, the neighbourhood very posh, the layout designed by prestigious architects… I believe that luxury attracts us, moves us and makes us dream… But luxury can also scare us off! Then, how can luxury brands develop their stores towards a pleasant and attractive customer experience? Is digital the key?

Première photo Chloé jpg

Source : http://bit.ly/25oHRxp

Are Luxury and digital incompatible? There’s a huge stereotype claiming that digital would put luxury in danger because it would oblige the brands to lose some of their prestige and secret aura. Well, let us take the example of the pioneer in the domain: Burberry and its digitalized luxurious flagship store (London). The ambition is clear: make visitors live the same experience online and offline. Sellers have iPad to consult the last purchases of the customers. They can create the trench of their dream on tablets. There are screens to broadcast fashion shows and concerts. Products have RFID chips to show similar articles thanks to screens also acting as mirrors. Customers can pay by mobile terminal. Nevertheless, Burberry is a brand with a traditional image, very anchored and backward-looking codes (tartan, trench). They included the current stakes by proving us that there aren’t borders anymore between the real and the digital world. If you wish to see images of this remarkable Burberry store, it’s this way:

In an oppressing context where e-commerce faces the exclusive distribution of luxury, it’s time to enter in the “phygital”. The digital needs to enter in physical stores to appeal to the future clientele: the Y generation. It will revolutionize the point of sale making people live a memorable experience. However, luxury needs to stay a singular world inventing its own digitalization: an astonishing and magic digital experience. The human needs to be put back at the centre to provide a real distinction between online and offline. Sellers need to find the pleasure of the customer relationship again, delighting the experience with a refined quality of service.

In the video below, Eric Briones (the famous @darkplanneur) proposes strategies for a singular digitalisation of the luxury:

Let us be carried away by the imagination of the luxurious shop of tomorrow: I dream of an immense cosy space (noble materials, furniture design, wine and smoothies bar, makeup and hairstyle spaces, personal shopper, sound and olfactory atmosphere…) but still very modern (sellers informed about our needs, connected shop windows for a shopping 24 hours a day, hangers with RFID chips for further information on screens, connected fitting  rooms to share on social media, customization of products on tablets, mobile payment…).

What about you? What could incite you to enter a luxury store? Tell me what you think about the “phygital” for these brands. Comment, share, like… And have an amazing day!

Deuxième photo Chloé jpg

Source : http://bit.ly/1L1uIhf

Chloé RIGOMIER

To get in touch with Chloé, find her here on Twitter & LinkedIn

Digital retail roundup

What does it take for retail environments to deliver compelling customer experiences in the face of soaring online and mobile-commerce figures?

Despite the rise of e-commerce, in-store retail keeps an important place in the lives of consumers who seem to move effortlessly between all consumption channels. The factors that might help physical stores stay abreast of e-commerce are hard to capture, but seem ironically reliant on digital technologies.

Retail stores will not disappear, but they need to evolve, integrate technologies, and rethink consumer loyalty to drive store visits.

In a white paper published this week, Samsung reveals that what customers are looking for is a blending of online and physical experience, with digital technology becoming more prevalent in-store. In-store technology should serve two functions:

  • Help the speed and ease of the purchase process;
  • Make the retail environment more engaging and interactive.

Here are a few exciting examples of retail/technology integration:

iBeacons, which deliver real-time, customised discounts, store information, or engage users in games. The Beaconcrawl in New York is a brilliant example: it gamifies the pubcrawl experience by notifying crawlers of secret spots and offering them special drinks and perks.

Instant printing and customisation can also be created through technology, like Topshop allowing shoppers to make their personalised, in-store, instant printed t-shirts with the Yr technology.

QR Codes: since 2011, Tesco’s branch Home Plus has implemented smart supermarket shelves in South Korean subways: commuters scan the QR codes of products on 2D shelves, order instantly and get the goods delivered directly to their homes.

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3D scanning: Virtual Changing Room technology like Fitsme lets consumers visualise what they would look like wearing a specific item without needing to get undressed, just using 3D scanning. A similar tool, StyleMe, developed by Cisco, was tested in John Lewis stores recently:

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These are but a few striking examples of how retail environments can make the most of online technologies, but it does not stop there and will continue expanding beyond current applications.

Keep your eyes and phone open on your next shopping trip!

Supermarket fascination #2

As a European who has been around Asia a bit and lived in the UK, I thought I had seen a lot different of supermarket styles and weird local products. Until I got to the US a few months ago.

As I was saying in a post last year, I am a bit of a supermarket fan, probably because of my marketing background and interest in retail and food. This is the Chicago sequel to my last year post.

On my first day there, my friend took me to her local favourite in the Old Town: Plum

What an amazing first impression! Firstly, heaps and heaps of fresh and gorgeous fruits and vegetables attack your senses as you step in.

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I had a particular crush on the tomatoes as you can tell.

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Then you start getting a bit sceptical when you realised that a regular supermarket is equipped with THAT many protein powders and food supplements. But then again, it’s the US: make these muscles big!

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And then, as you are almost out, by the check-out counter, there is a last surprise for you: bacon-flavoured chocolate. My Belgian heart had a twinge…

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In fact, Plum was a bit of a paradise, especially if you compare it with the gas station stores on the highway.

There, the snack/healthy food ratio is probably 1000/1.

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Not to worry, though: you will find a giant version of what Belgians know as “Bifi”, or these dry, skinny, pre-packed snack sausages. Heaven you say? Ermmmm, yes, ok. I still had none of these snacks (or suspicious oranges, for that matter, and battled with the coffee machine for 15 minutes instead).

 

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Last but not least, I was taken to another supermarket heaven in downtown Chicago: Mariano’s

Pure bliss again this time: A 50 metre-long buffet of fresh or warm salads, meals, meats and: anything you could wish for for your take-away lunch  (which is what we did), tons of fresh fruit and veg, and these mouth watering popcorn (Chicago specialty) and cakes.

I do envy my friend Camille who works around the corner! No university restaurant ever looked like that!

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I think I missed out on quite a lot and will have to go back to check out Trader’s Joe, Costco or Wal-Mart.

Next time, for sure!