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Online Or In-Store: The Commerce World Just Got a Whole Lot Trickier
Sometimes, the world shows us an obvious solution to a problem we didn’t know we had.

This one came to the e-Commerce world from Amazon’s product team.
The world of long checkout lines and carrying around a wallet may soon come to an end thanks to the power of Amazon Go’s “Just Walk Out” technology.

This technology combines e-Commerce profiles with in-store shopping, giving you the ability to “Just Walk Out” of Amazon Go convenience stores with your purchase instead of paying for your items with a traditional cashier.

If you think that’s cool, you’re not alone. One major player has also been totally impressed by this technology: Starbucks.

What Is Amazon Go?

Amazon Go is simple and to the point. All you have to do is simply enter the store using a credit card, an “in-store” code from your Amazon app, or Amazon One’s palm signature scanner and start shopping.

Once in the store, just pull the items from the shelves like normal. You can even replace the item on the shelf without being charged for it!

Hundreds of cameras both across the ceilings and shelves and machine learning algorithms work together to distinguish which items you’ve taken and which are replaced on the shelves. These cameras also help employees know when to re-stock.

When you leave, your card or Amazon account will be charged for the purchases and a receipt will become available in a few hours.

Originally opened in 2017 to a limited audience, Amazon Go at one point only carried items from a single brand. Every buffalo chicken salad, for instance, would cost the same so that the cameras could easily distinguish from a distance.

But things have changed. Since the technology is now able to read multiple brands, multi-brand retailers partnering with this technology could win big. That’s where Starbucks comes in.

Starbucks’ Interest in Amazon Go Technology

“Innovation, as I had often said, is not only about rethinking products, but also rethinking the nature of relationships. When it came to our customers, connecting with them in a store and online did not have to be mutually exclusive experiences.”

This quote by Howard Schultz in his 2011 book, Onward, perfectly describes Starbucks’ motivation to be at the forefront of this kind of technology.

Starbucks is leveraging Amazon Go not only to sell multiple brands of buffalo chicken salad at a time, but to also recreate the entire Starbucks experience in a digitally blended environment.

The newest Starbucks Pickup & Amazon Go store located in New York City lets customers order mobile coffee like normal, then enter the Amazon Go area to browse Starbucks-brand café items.

Previously only native to Seattle, this New York City location will effectively test this technology’s high-volume shopping capabilities. Two more co-branded stores are planned for 2022, including the New York Times building.

That area doubles as a Starbucks lounge, serving Starbucks favorites like Breakfast Sandwiches & Protein Boxes in addition to Amazon Go’s market selection.

Why Is Starbucks Partnering with Amazon Go?

The marriage of Amazon Go’s convenience with Starbucks’ rich history of customization is the perfect blend for an optimized user experience.

Amazon Go’s technology allows Starbucks customers to customize their own physical Starbucks experience. This gives them their “3rd Place Environment” (or getting their morning coffee & bagel) without ever having to stand still. Great for New Yorkers!

This also poses several advertising implications.

If cameras can track users’ in-store visits, conversion value tracking for those in-store customers becomes a very real possibility. This enables Amazon metrics to show things like “average order value” even for customers who purchase in-store and aren’t attributed to any form of loyalty program.

This would also provide advertisers with a plethora of data on in-store customer behaviors, giving traditional marketers and coupons a better edge to optimize the in-store experience.

While this technology isn’t likely to hit all major retailers across the U.S. anytime soon, it is changing the way users are shopping and advertising. It could very well be the new normal within the coming years.

How Is Empower Reacting to Amazon Go?

Empower’s e-Commerce team is constantly looking for ways to blend in-person and online user experiences while finding ways to create efficiencies within omni-channel campaigns to push in-store volume.

This technology and the company partnership that’s already emerged from it have changed the in-person shopping landscape.

Where emphasis within digital mediums has always been trackable online actions, the ability to analyze offline traffic in this way requires us to re-think everything from placements to our creative messaging.

Creative messaging will soon need to reflect invitations to purchase online or purchase in-store. In-app placements will also become much more valuable since the only thing required to enter an Amazon Go location is a smartphone.

Finally, Empower must prepare itself for new, evolving advertising capabilities on Amazon to help leverage this technology. If there’s one constant in the digital world, it’s change.