retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Interesting research from Piplsay suggesting that "57% of Americans will be excited to see Amazon Go or similar tech-enabled stores near them" … "59% of Americans think Amazon Go will be a threat to big-box stores like Walmart and Kroger" … and "54% of Americans believe Amazon Go-like stores will be a success despite online retail’s entrenchment."

That's interesting, since, if I am reading it right,  the same research showed that 52% of those surveyed had not been to an Amazon Go, and 20% hadn't even heard of it.  Only 28% had been to an Amazon Go - which is actually a pretty high number considering there are only 27 of them - in Seattle (7), Chicago (7), San Francisco (5), and New York City (8).

Look, you won't find many people more enthusiastic about the Amazon Go format than I am.  I've been to most of the store currently open, I think the technology is transformational, and I'm curious to see how it can be adapted to larger format stores in the future, as well as how the technology can be licensed to other retailers.

But I think that despite speculation that Amazon Go plans to open "thousands" of stores in "coming years," there is absolutely no evidence that we're going to see that kind of expansion (unless you define "coming years" in the broadest possible way).  And I have to wonder about the assertion that so many people are excited about it when so many people haven't been to one or have never heard of it.  

At my local Whole Foods, I bring my own bag - and it almost always is an orange Amazon Go bag.  And the vast majority of the people who work there have never heard of Amazon Go.  And they work for the same damn company!

I think the evidence is that Amazon plans to test a lot of different formats and a lot of different technologies - maybe even more so now that Jeff Bezos, as part of his new chairman's job, has said he wants to focus more on grocery.  I continue to believe that Amazon's Go technology could end up being as transformational as scanning.

But I also think it is important not to assign our own biases to the general public, nor to Amazon's internal development process.

Even if the numbers seem Eye-Opening.