One of the most interesting retail experiences I’ve had of late was visiting an Amazon Go store while on a business trip to New York City.
Like everyone in CPG, I had been reading lots about Amazon Go and its ‘Just Walk Out’ tech (which is now also rolling out to Whole Foods Market stores), but I wanted to see it for myself. And I have to say: It really does make for a remarkable shopping experience when you try it.
You enter the store with a QR code, which is used to connect any purchases you make to your Amazon account. Once inside, the store is essentially a convenience store, offering snacks, lunch options, sodas, and a small range of health and beauty products. You pick what you need and walk out of the door – done. There’s no checkout line, making the experience incredibly easy and seamless.
Amazon Go is just one example of how digital technology is blending with physical retail to create new and better experiences for shoppers. The trend, which is sometimes referred to as ‘phygital’ retail, reflects the insight that there is no such thing as an ‘online shopper’ and an ‘in-store shopper’ anymore.
In 2022, a shopper is just a shopper, and they’re interacting with both worlds. Online habits influence in-store purchases, and physical objects (including grocery products) are increasingly used to trigger digital experiences.
In all this, brick-and-mortar locations remain very important, as shoppers value the ability to physically see and touch products, even if they ultimately end up buying them online. As we’ve highlighted previously, between 60 and 70% of US consumers are now omnichannel shoppers, meaning they shop and/or research purchases both in store and online.
In a world where physical stores continue to be important but online sales are also growing, retailers do, however, need to maximize the efficiency of the in-store experience. This is what Amazon Go does brilliantly. Its blend of physical and digital creates a store that in many ways still looks and feels like a traditional grocery store but is much more efficient.
The opportunity to enhance physical retail through virtual and augmented reality technology is also huge. There is already some exciting work happening in this area, and I look forward to seeing more retailers and CPGs leverage new tech to forge deeper, more meaningful relationships with shoppers.
It’s a fast-moving area, of course, so testing and learning will be key. This is not the time for brand owners or retailers to put all their eggs in one technology’s basket. Thankfully, there is plenty of inspiration around. Amazon Go aside, here are five other examples of ‘phygital’ retail that I’m following with great interest.
This post has been updated and was originally published April 2021. eGrocery is evolving at eye-watering speed, but does your team have the skills to make the most of the…
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