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Friday, June 15, 2018

More on the Autonomous Store

More complete piece by Jon Stine on Amazon Go, and the more general topic of autonomous stores.  In US and China.  In the Intel IT Peer Network:

Lots of comment about the Amazon Go store.  And the ten variants of ever-more autonomic stores in China.

Four thoughts for discussion and debate:

From a shopper’s view: it’s about time.
As I visit the stores (and read reports from the front), I’m reminded of the essential 2006 article (“Retail Store Execution: An Empirical Study,” Fisher, Krishnan, and Netessine, Wharton, December 2006) that identified the four most important determinants of store performance.

Stock position (specifically, in-stock); the speed, accuracy, and security of transactions; the ready availability of human help; and, the ability of that human help to truly help—to solve problems and create solutions.

From an operator’s point of view, it’s a neat and rigorously-researched four-point statement of priority.

But from a shopper’s point of view, it’s a neat listing of what shoppers have preferred ever since the first merchant’s rug was spread in the first bazaar.

Which is what Amazon Go and the Chinese stores are working to deliver.

2. From an industry perspective: thank you. (Gulp.)

When I reflect upon the work of Amazon and its Chinese brethren (Alibaba, JD.com, and Suning, specifically) what impresses me most is not the technology but the damn-the-torpedoes mentality that is determined to break through.

Take POS.  We’ve known for years that the in-store transaction process is one of the most painful parts of the decision journey. Yes, we’ve envisioned a world of RFID-tagged SKUs in self-reading carts or rolling through reader-rich tunnels or gates.  And there has been no shortage of efforts to improve accuracy, speed, and security within the existing POS paradigm.

But we’ve rarely thought about blowing the whole thing up.   And designing not point of sale—with emphasis upon “point”—but immediate and easy and secure payment.

Congratulations to those lighting the explosives. You’re forcing us all to improve.

There are three big differences between those tests of yesteryear and the pilot stores of today. The first is the technology. Of course. Today’s is more powerful, ever faster, ever smaller, ever more connected, enabling faster learning and deeper inference.  .... " 

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