While retailers always keeps one eye on Amazon at all times, how does the industry react at the announcement of the giant marketplace opening a new brick-and-mortar location? As the physical Amazon story continues to unfold, Kurt Heinemann, chief marketing officer at Reflektion, says that other retailers can learn lessons from the launch of the marketplace's latest venture, Amazon Go.
"Amazon has taken something that was a given—the checkout experience—and turned its absence into a huge point of differentiation," Heinemann told FierceRetail. At the same time, Amazon is able to use this experience to collect tons of customers data. As a result, the retailer provides a seamless and captivating experience for the customer, online and off.
Heinemann recommended that other retailers should question their own customer experience, such as solving pain points in the purchasing process.
"To get to this point, they need to both think empathetically from the perspective of the customer and collect data that allows them to glean insights on the customer," he said. "Many retailers aren’t even doing that, but the launch of and interest in Amazon Go will help point brick and mortar retailers in the right direction."
And Heinemann reminds physical retailers that it's not too late: innovation, experimentation and tweaking can help to improve the brand experience. This means ditching the siloed approach and creating a unified physical and digital experience.
"Again, retailers must put themselves in the customer’s shoes and figure out what is best for them in order to leverage that insight to build better experiences," he said.
So what are the best practices that other retailers can learn from Amazon Go?
According to Heinemann, retailers should not pigeonhole their customers by assuming they know what customers are willing (and not willing) to do. Instead, retailers should work to address inconveniences and inefficiencies within the shopping experience just as Amazon Go has done with the checkout experience.
"They’ve turned their online brand into a strength. They know who their customers are, and those customers are willing to fork over an ID to walk into a store without having to wait in line to buy items; they’ve come to trust Amazon and its ease of engagement and shopping," he said.
In addition, Heinemann said that retailers could also improve upon the small conveniences that are often overlooked for providing the lowest price in retail. For example, the checkout process and fitting room technology. But he said these small efficiencies can have a lasting impact on the consumer.
"The bottom line is: retailers need to be reminded that taking the time to imagine and think is essential to innovation and addressing consumer issues," he said.
Looking forward, Heinemann said that the store of the future will look like Amazon Go: free of restrictions and friction.
"The full story and lessons for retailers are yet to unfold, but the effects of Amazon Go are already here—Amazon Go has shown other retailers that it is possible to thrive in a changing landscape if you unify your experiences, use data to your advantage and make things simple for the consumer," Heinemann said. "With Amazon Go, consumers merely identify themselves on arrival and the exit point is pain-free. The lack of an interrogation process will continue to have an effect on the industry as other retailers will (or should) take note."