Going to the store has become a different experience over the past few months. Amazon has been working diligently for the past few years to create contactless smart store technology, little did they know ‘contactless’ would be the name of the game in 2020. Read more about Amazon’s new technology below!
Since AmazonGo’s launch in 2018, the contactless smart store technology that made the launch possible has seen strong adoption and expansion across the U.S. Based on reporting from CNBC, Amazon’s latest development is the Dash Cart—a smart shopping cart embedded with cameras, weight sensors, and an electronic display that tracks and charges orders without shoppers ever having to visit a register. Amazon announced that the Dash Cart will launch at the company’s new Los Angeles-area supermarket in Woodland Hills, which is expected to open later this year. This ‘Go Grocery’ store will be part of a new line of grocery stores that resemble traditional convenience stores in both layout and product assortment. As stated by CNBC, this new format builds on the original Go store’s grab-and-go convenience model as these Dash carts are designed for small to mid-sized grocery trips.
The Perfect Time for Change
The Amazon Dash Cart comes at an ideal time as the COVID-19 pandemic shifts consumer behaviors to value more streamlined trips with less time in-store and as little contact with others as possible. According to Retail Dive, reducing risks for in-store customers is retailers’ top priority, especially at essential businesses like grocery stores. As in-store shoppers mask up, companies work to protect against disease transmission by implementing new guidelines and processes, such as plexiglass barriers at registers, social distancing floor markers, limited store occupancy, and hourly sanitization routines. And with the pandemic as a catalyst, contactless payments are on the rise. A Mastercard survey from April found that 51% of the 1,000 U.S. consumers surveyed now use a form of contactless payment; half of the respondents said, “they worry about the cleanliness of signature touchpads, and 72% said they prefer to skip signatures altogether,” demonstrating consumers’ health concerns and willingness to switch to contactless payment options. Additionally, USA Today reported in late July that the U.S. now faces a coin shortage due to the partial economic shutdown. This has forced some essential businesses to post signs asking consumers to pay with a card over cash, further pushing the country towards digital transactions and contactless payments, like mobile wallets and tap-and-go credit cards.
Capitalizing on Growth Opportunities
It seems Amazon anticipated this trend as it has taken contactless payment and shopping to the next level, first with its Go stores and now with the Dash Cart. In March of this year, as the pandemic began its surge in the U.S., TechCrunch reported Amazon’s announcement that it would begin selling its smart store technology to other retailers. That same month, Business Insider said OTG—a hospitality company with stores inside airport terminals—announced plans to leverage the autonomous checkout technology from Amazon at some of its locations, making OTG the first retailer to use the smart store technology. Though airport traffic has slowed tremendously due to the coronavirus, Business Insider reports that partnering in retail spaces where fast checkout is important will likely help this technology rapidly gain popularity with a large and diverse audience once travelers take to the skies, again.
With new health and safety concerns increasing demand for contactless shopping and payment, we anticipate Amazon will continue innovating within this space. The retail world will certainly be watching closely, analyzing the technology, and monitoring consumers’ responses.