By Allison Beadle, founder & CEO of Wild Hive
Having started my food marketing career working for one of the most innovative grocery companies in the world, Central Market/H.E.B., you could say I have a “thing” for grocery stores. So, naturally I have been looking forward to checking out Amazon Go in Seattle.
I love the convenience of Amazon. But I really do not enjoy the user experience of Amazon. I find the site incredibly overwhelming—I’ve been an Amazon Prime customer for years, so you’d think I’d have it down, but I don’t. It’s too crowded, there’s too much information, it’s not intuitive, and sometimes I just can’t find my bearings.
Could the online jungle of Amazon actually pull off a decent brick and mortar shopping experience?
I’m here in Seattle and just checked out Amazon Go this morning. And yes, Amazon has pulled it off.
Some takeaways from my shopping experience. And a video and photo gallery up on the Wild Hive Instagram account.
- As you approach the store entrance, there is a wall of windows into the kitchen where Amazon employees are preparing all of the fresh takeout food that is sold in the store. Win. The kitchen is pristinely clean, and I can see what they’re making. It’s REAL.
- A super friendly Amazon employee, David, stands at the entrance to greet the shoppers. He’s wearing a bright orange sweatshirt, so there’s no mistaking that he’s with Amazon. He immediately welcomes me and asks me to open my AmazonGo app. I let him know that I’m a newbie, and he walks me through the process with the most delightful attitude.
- The store is very small—just 1,800 square feet—but it does not feel cramped or busting-at-the-seems with products. There is a nice balance of signage throughout the store. I immediately feel like I know what I’m doing. This “real world” Amazon shopping experience is much better than the online experience.
- For now, Amazon Go is giving reusable shopping bags to its customers for free. Smart. If they could figure out a way to do this permanently it would be a big win. Relieve your shoppers of having to remember to bring in their reusable bag or charging them a buck to buy one to add to the collection at home.
- The product assortment is impressive—tightly curated to cover the essentials whether you are shopping for conventional, natural and organic, or specialty items. Whatever kind of customer you are, Amazon Go has you covered. They have clearly nailed the data analytics.
- And all product categories you would find in a traditional grocery store are covered. You can even buy a single roll of toilet paper.
- They’ve even got a few products to simply surprise and delight—small, lesser-known brands and even limited-time local brand partnerships. I bought a Theo Chocolate/Amazon Go dark chocolate bar.
- There is only one other employee working on the floor. She’s restocking items and working the beer and wine case. I ask her what it’s like working at the store and she says she loves it, “It is so much fun to see how our shoppers enjoy the experience.” We banter a bit—she’s very friendly and helpful. So this store-of-the-future is not lacking the human element.
- I spot a couple of Whole Foods 365 items on the shelves, but there is surprisingly zero pull-through of the Amazon Whole Foods branding in Amazon Go. Amazon Go was in beta for over year before the store opened, well before they acquired Whole Foods.
- The prepared food assortment is impressive—definitely pulling through all the right trends to appeal to a customer base that is a mix of Millennial, urban, upper-income, multi-cultural shoppers.
- And they have meal kits. Fresh, healthy, worldly flavors ready to bring home and prepare a meal for your family. I’d rather buy a meal kit from Amazon Go than order one and have it shipped overnight to me—fresher, (potentially) safer, less packing,
- And checking out? Well, this might be the best part. I just leave. And moments later a receipt with images of all the products I purchased is waiting for me in my Amazon Go app. No waiting in line for someone else to check me out. No self-check out mistakes that have to be corrected by an employee. I’ve added a good 10 minutes back to my schedule by not having to go through the traditional check-out process.
- My only real complaint is the music—it felt like the music they play at the gym, which is just not my style. Probably intended to make me pick up the pace and shop quickly.
In short, I’m a fan. If there was an AmazonGo near me, I’d definitely shop there. Amazon has demonstrated that it can take the brick-and-mortar grocery store into the future without losing the best elements of the real-world shopping experience.