What Amazon Go Means For SMBs
When the largest Internet-based retailer goes brick-and-mortar it raises more than a few eyebrows. In early December, Amazon announced Amazon Go, a grocery store where customers can grab what they need from the shelves and pay with the retailer app, eliminating traditional registers or check-outs. This movement to the physical store has caused a stir in the retail industry and begs the question what does this mean for small and medium sized businesses (SMB)?
What We Would Miss
When a study shows that 73% of customers expect customer service to be easier and more convenient than it currently is – retailers are quick to interpret that as the movement from the physical to the digital channel. This perception assumes that convenience is the only concern to the customer. There is more to this study as Destination CRM found that 83% of respondents prefer human beings over digital channels when it comes to solving customer service issues.
The completely automated system has its glitches. There is no customer service, let alone the personalised experience that customers are asking for. In addition to the absence of customer service, complete automation leaves retailers open to hackings and vulnerable to security lapses without employee’s constant monitoring.
The experience of a physical store is difficult to digitally recreate. But ignoring the trends of the digital society is costly. Thus, understanding the value of both and implementing an integrated shopping experience is the key to SMB success.
Physical stores need to be tech-savvy in order to have a seamless and efficient operation. In addition to providing offerings online, through website and social media, physical stores need to remain technically adept in-store. As digital natives continue to make up more of the population, there is now an expectation for instant, convenient, and accessible service. Outfitting your store with industry leading technology will make stores more relevant, providing a way for customers to find the thing they want with the utmost ease.
An omni-channel approach enables customers to receive alerts when there are promotions on their favourite items, shop online and pickup in-store, and retailers can market and engage through social media as well as leverage big data to improve their bottom line.
The announcement of Amazon Go has put into question the significance and value of physical stores. Revel CEO, Lisa Falzone, commented to CNBC on Amazon Go, noting that online and brick-and-mortars are “becoming one.” SMBs can stay agile in a shifting shopper landscape by embracing technology, thus removing in-store obstacles and enhancing the personalised experience.