Last week, I shoplifted. Not intentionally, mind you. Still. What a moment! My crime? Taking a bag without paying Amazon for it.
To be clear, it was a paper bag. And Amazon was supposed to charge me $0.10 for it. To be fair to me, it wasn’t clear that I was supposed to explicitly pay for it. You see, it was from an Amazon Go store. You know, the stores without checkouts.
I only realized my crime when I got my bill after the fact, via push notification. Let me know where to send the dime, Amazon. Lord knows, you need it.
I highlight this sort of humorous situation because it was really the only hiccup in an otherwise magical experience. For whatever reason, Amazon can’t automatically charge you for such bags, and instead asks that you self-report if you take a bag. Yes, manually. Like an animal.
Bag issue aside — and I have a feeling that if I opted to take the nicer, $1 branded and reusable bag, someone would have stopped me — I came away very impressed
with Amazon’s attempt at such a store. Yes, they’ve been open in places like Amazon’s hometown of Seattle for a while. And written about just as long. And it’s easy to be jaded about such things. Once again, technology is *disrupting* something. This time, the corner store. But it is just a really great experience. It’s the type of thing that after you check-out — or rather don’t check-out
— you think: of course
this is how it should work.
And likely will in the future. Not that Amazon will own all of retail — though, it would be folly to discount such a possibility! — but that eventually every type of retail business, perhaps beyond the smallest and/or most bespoke, will operate in such a way. Even if stores can’t afford to develop their own self-check-out technology — which most cannot, of course — there are a number of startups working in this space. And undoubtedly one of the large tech companies, whether it be Amazon or someone else, will begin offering solutions to third-parties to extend such technology. Again, it feels inevitable.
I realize this all sounds a bit hyperbolic. I walked into a store, a store that looks like many other stores, and walked out with some stuff. The fact that I didn’t have to check out, probably saved a few minutes, but so what?
This is one of those things that has compounding effects. 5 minutes saved here, 10 minutes saved there, some busy days, maybe 20 minutes saved. Soon we’re talking hours saved. Then days. Then weeks. You get the picture. This is actually about making convenient stores decidedly more convenient — even if it’s not readily apparent with just one trip.
My inadvertent theft aside, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the whole thing “just works”. The biggest hurdle is the first-use experience where you have to download an Amazon Go app. But it’s a minor pain point (it honestly took longer to sign in to Amazon and pick a credit card I had on file than it took to download the app), and there are undoubtedly ways
to smooth out such a process in the future. Beacons? Amazon fobs? A Fire Phone 2?!
Drinking: a latte – it’s 2pm on a Sunday. ☕️
To that end, since it’s the weekend, switching things up a bit to focus some links on one deal I was involved with this week and below that, some newsletters I’ve been enjoying recently. Back to your regularly scheduled links/commentary/beer next week. 🍻