Could legal shoplifting mean the end of queuing?

If queuing ever becomes an Olympic sport, there’s little doubt that we’d take gold, but a new technology is threatening this as ‘legal shoplifting’ comes into fashion. I see raised eyebrows…let me explain!

The ‘holy grail’ of customer experiences for many retailers is a queue-free experience that minimises the annoyance and frustration of having to wait to pay for your goods.

The shopping experience without queues is something that Amazon is seeking to do with its ‘Amazon Go’ concept, which has the potential to completely rewrite the world of payments and shopping experience with an entirely location-based payments system.

The concept of Amazon Go is a simple one. You walk into a store, grab what you need and then simply walk out – legal shoplifting if you will. This grab-and-go idea has been the dream for the retailer for a while and has always been ‘a few years away’, but has never quite come to fruition.

However, Amazon has made grab-and-go possible using a combination of technologies, including apps and location-based tracking. It’s still in the early stages – Amazon seems to be struggling with tracking more than 20 people in its store, at which point the technology seems to just give up. The technology is also struggling to identify when shoppers do that annoying thing of grabbing a pack of pasta from the shelf then putting it back in the frozen aisle, or dumping them in a pile at the till. Whilst problematic, Amazon is clearly making huge strides in tracking more than one person in store, showing the potential is there, but it does need to scale up.

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Of course, consumers won’t just want to go to an Amazon Go store. They might have other grocery or fashion stores close to them that they prefer, or are loyal to. So it’s entirely possible that Amazon has a plan to sell licenses for Go’s location-based payments concept once it’s proven to work, providing retailers with a next-generation technology to improve the customer experience and reduce theft. As an added incentive, Amazon could offer discounts to merchants that sign up to the Amazon Pay payments system, allowing shoppers to simply use their Amazon account to pay for the items they buy, with Amazon acting as the payment processor and generating more revenue.

The potential of this technology is huge. Imagine a world without queues and without the stress of the shopping. Your trip to Oxford Street suddenly becomes that much more palatable. No longer will you be waiting 15 minutes to pay for your clothes in Selfridges, instead you simply leave. Sirens won’t sound and you won’t be chased down the street by a security guard.


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