The phone while shopping
The phone has become our constant shopping companion. Over 75% of us already have a smartphone – that is ¾ of Poles have any store in their pocket. The undoubted advantage of having something in your pocket is the ability to take it with you anywhere – and so although more than half of us browse the Internet on the go at home, as many as one-third do it while traveling, and one in four Poles does it in points of sale, restaurants or cinemas.
And for me the most interesting thing in this context is the support of mobile devices – omnichannel sales, dependent on the context, where the smartphone helps at exactly the right moment in the shopping process. I myself, despite the great love for new technologies and adoration for my phone, practically never close a transaction on my mobile. Often on the road browsing offers on my smartphone, when I see something interesting I switch to my laptop – after all, it's a bigger screen and usually more comfortable to use – and after getting to know the product, looking through reviews and all sorts of tests, I go to a stationary store to make the final decision and leave with the product right away. And there are thousands of scenarios for this process.
I was very pleased to hear about a new pilot store of Piotr and Paul in which you just need to scan selected products with a smartphone with the application "Scan and Buy", put them in the nets and at a dedicated stand pay on the basis of calculations from the mobile. No taking your shopping to the conveyor belt, no scanning by the cashier and no re-packing. Appropriate scoring algorithm will ensure that there are no mistakes and abuse. For me it's great – and if you could pay immediately on the phone it would be perfect.
That's why I felt even more joy when I heard that Amazon's new test store, Amazon Go, is running completely unmanned. I perceive this experiment as a 1:1 transfer of an online store to the real world. The customer enters the store by reading the QR code from the Amazon Go application at the gates (in fact, he logs in to the store), walks between the shelves where thousands of sensors, cameras and sensors, behind which stands an incredibly sophisticated, learning algorithm, track him and meticulously note down what he has put in his basket. Analogous to CRM in classic ecommerce. At the end, the customer simply walks out, and for the items in the shopping cart is automatically billed and collected from the Amazon account – this process is probably even faster than in the online store, where you often have to click hard to get to the end of the transaction. The whole world is excited about this solution and so am I – in industries where you buy a lot and often this type of system will be a real salvation. And throughout the entire Amazon Go shopping process, the phone became a stealthy but essential part of being our ID and wallet – even though we hardly ever took it out.
Anyway, this is not the first approach of the Internet giant to revolutionize traditional commerce. The first real store that Amazon opened was Amazon Books – a bookstore. But of course, this is no ordinary bookstore. The books on the shelves are arranged with the cover facing the customer, just like in any online book store. Next to each book you will find a badge with its rating and review from Amazon.com – the bookstore only sells books that have more than 4 stars. Interestingly, there are no prices for books. These prices correspond to the prices on Amazon, so they are dynamic, and they also depend on Amazon Prime membership, which is a very useful loyalty program. To check the price we have to scan the code of the book in the Amazon application or on the readers located in the store.
In the store itself, which necessarily contains a fraction of the offer, you can order books from the Internet offer, in addition to all the electronic gadgets from Amazon's stable – Kindle reader, Fire HD tablets or Echo voice assistant. You can also pay for your purchases using the app – by scanning the appropriate code at the checkout – but unfortunately you can't just walk out with your book. All indications are that Amazon Books was the first testbed for understanding how people shop in the real world and how to efficiently, yet discreetly, record.
I like the direction this is going – instead of forcing Amazon Go customers to use applications that often hide behind technological innovations and under the guise of artificial usefulness, de facto push us only ads and collect information about us – we get real value and convenience. Of course, I'm not fooling myself, this will be a whole new level of surveillance and the amount of data we will transfer will be incomparably greater than the already huge amount we make available now. But this is a dilemma for a separate article – do we allow to keep track of ourselves but in return enjoy all the benefits of the modern world, or do we guard our privacy at the expense of convenience?.