- During its analyst day last week, Albertsons Companies officials noted it will soon begin testing Amazon Go-like technology where shoppers can grab their items and leave without checking out or scanning a barcode.
- The pilot, which has not yet begun, will be for a “limited set of products like Plated and other prepared foods,” according to company officials.
- Albertsons also said it is testing a similar technology, “One Touch,” at the gas pump that allows drivers to pull up, pump and leave without having to go through a sales transaction. The initial test is at a fuel center in Northern California. The company plans to apply for a patent on the technology.
As Amazon goes, so goes the rest of the industry. When the e-tailer opened its Amazon Go concept earlier this year in Seattle, it was just a matter of time before grocers rolled out similar technology to facilitate a comparable shopping experience.
This is no easy task. Amazon’s pockets are deeper than most other retailers’, and the technology that drives Amazon Go is extensive and proprietary. But considering last week’s news that Amazon Go is expanding to additional cities, it is wise for others to at least test this technology in their stores.
There are not many details for Albertsons’ test of the “Amazon Go-like” technology, but its focus on meal kits and prepared foods will allow the company start small, and hone in on grab-and-go items that seem tailored to the concept. Furthermore, driving the demand for meal kits and prepared foods are millennial consumers, who also happen to be tech-savvy and, therefore a good test audience for such new technology.
Albertsons isn’t alone in chasing a checkout-free technology solution. Walmart is exploring an Amazon Go-like store, while other companies are taking a more conservative approach and sticking to a scan-and-go mobile strategy. Integrating frictionless, convenience-driven technology into an already-existing mobile platform may make sense for many retailers not willing to bet the farm on relatively untested technology.
At the same time, questions linger over just how badly shoppers want to skip the checkout line. Walmart recently ended its Scan & Go after the service failed to resonate with customers. According to CBC News, it was challenging for shoppers to bag, weigh and scan items like produce, causing most to head to traditional checkout counters.
Still, Amazon made e-commerce the norm – $2.3 trillion of sales are expected in the U.S. via e-commerce channels this year alone – and it may very well do the same with checkout-free technology. If other players, including Albertsons, figure out how to implement a similar system, checkout lines may become a thing of the past sooner rather than later.