Amazon has formally introduced its new Amazon GO retail concept on the West Coast. Basically, you can shop without lines and without going through checkout. A combination of technologies (they say, the same ones used in self driving cars) are used to notice what you pick up and what you put in your cart or back. As soon as you leave the store, your order is totaled, your Amazon prime account is charged, and you get a receipt on your mobile phone. All you have to do is – go. Currently, the store is open only to employees. That is set to change in 2017. Here’s the video:

Seems amazing, doesn’t it? You might wonder, “How can one company, even one as cool as Amazon, develop that whole concept and make it real?” It’s not easy and Amazon does move mountains to make it come to life. To pull off pilots like this, retailers must coordinate the activities of multiple departments into one smoothly running new customer experience. Which departments are affected? Here are just a few:

  • Store planning
  • Supply chain
  • Shelving, lighting, signage
  • Real estate
  • Finance
  • Service
  • Digital-only cash wrap
  • Computer vision
  • Deep learning algorithms
  • Sensor fusion

But, Amazon didn’t do this by itself. The idea has roots that go back almost 20 years…roots that Amazon is building on…and roots that your company can utilize in its own designs as well. Companies that haven’t introduced new shopping technologies or a self-driving car can amaze their customers and shareholders too.

TESCO’s HomeGoods brand put previously unused South Korean subway tunnels to use as a virtual store which commuters used as a catalog as they went to work. Walk up to the item you want using an app on your phone, scan the codes, and get groceries delivered to your front door just before you get home from work. Better than the Amazon model, this one lets you avoid the going, carrying, and check-out parts of shopping altogether. Check out their video:


Perhaps the original version of the check-out-less shopping concept was the eBusiness commercial by IBM introduced on television in 1999. In this conceptual 60-second spot, viewers are made to believe that a male shopper is stealing items by simply stuffing them into his coat—as regular shoppers and employees watch and become more suspicious. As he exits the store, special effects are used to show that a ‘machine’ scans him and his groceries. The video makes the concept understandable and fun at the same time. The video ends with “Check-out lines. Who needs them? This is the future of eBusiness.” Almost the same as Amazon…

If you’re wrestling with ideas for your own company—ideas that may set your future direction or separate you from the pack—you might like to know that there are tools and services available to help you dream bigger and build faster. At Storyminers, we offer several build-the-future services: FRED (Future Retail Experience Design), HUMAN PROTOTYPING® (envision big ideas without the big expense), EXPERIENCE DESIGN (get the details right), and IoT MAKEOVER (let your own teams be a part of seeing how your business can work smarter using the Internet of Things). Interested? Just raise your hand 😉