Are Amazon about to change the face of retail forever?
The online giant has already revolutionised the way we buy things. They are the biggest name in online shopping and have been for some time. They pioneered next day delivery services like Prime and now even have a service where you can get same-day delivery in some areas and for some products. Amazon have also become the largest competitor to online video streaming services like Netflix after their takeover of LoveFilm in 2011 and are starting to compete in terms of exclusive and original content with shows like The Grand Tour and drama series like Man in the High Castle. Amazon are now in the process of rolling out their fleet of drones to further revolutionise the delivery process. They are seemingly on the forefront of technological advances in retail services and they aren’t finished yet. Amazon are testing a number of revolutionary ideas that could change the face of retail as we know it.
It has been reported recently that Amazon are starting to ‘dip their feet’ into immersive technologies and virtual reality. The report, which largely stemmed from a job which Amazon advertised for a ‘Creative Director, Virtual Reality’. The advert, that appeared on LinkedIn, has now disappeared maybe due to the unwanted attention it was receiving online, was for a role in the company’s product search and advertisement arm which leads us to speculate they aim into introduce VR in to the user’s purchase journey. It’s an indication of where Amazon want to expand and how they are looking to embrace digital and immersive technology in addition to improving delivery channels and hardware such as drones. In the short term, it could simply be the use of virtual reality to see 360 images of items or the ability to see an interactive 3D image of products. The long term possibilities ignite the imagination. In the future, you could be able to pick an item up, spin it in your hands and even test it out all in a virtual space. You could walk into a virtual shop, browse through their products, feel their quality, try then on maybe all from the comfort of your own home. The possibilities are literally endless and it’s not as far in the future as you may think.
At the end of 2016, Amazon announced it’s new AmazonGo initiative which looks to revolutionise the method of paying for goods in a physical environment. The short video below gives you an idea of what they are planning.
The idea is that you activate an app on your mobile phone as you enter the store and it logs the items you pick up from the shelves. You can then pop the item in your bag and forget about it. When you’ve finished and leave the store, you again scan the app on your phone which then confirms your purchases and charges you accordingly using the payment methods you’ve attached to your Amazon account – much like buying items from their online store. Amazon go will negate the need for checkouts, queues, checkout assistants meaning stores can be manned by the minimum number of staff which makes things very cost effective for the store. Amazon are currently trialling this revolutionary idea in Seattle in the United States.
As discussed briefly above, Amazon are leading the way in the use of drones for commercial use. The company is currently rolling out a fleet of drones to deliver parcels to commercial and residential properties. The first UK delivery took place in December 2016 and took just 13 minutes from take off to destination. And while this may sound like something out of a movie, Amazon have patented a plan to have a mobile warehouse on an airship! Yes… an AIRSHIP! This unmanned vehicle would store inventory and act as a base from which to launch delivery drones. The inventory would be replenished by a smaller service ship and this could also be used to refuel the airship so it would only need to land for maintenance. The drone fleet is just awaiting federal approval before being rolled out in the USA. Amazon are also looking into more secure ways of payment. Technology now allows for users to pay for things via contactless cars or with your thumbprint in the same way as you access your iPhone. The latest idea Amazon are toying with is a system that allows you to pay for items with a selfie. They plan to use facial recognition software to allow you to authorise payments.
And this is all Amazon. Imagine what other giant companies are up to. Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Tesla… we could be living in a much more technologically advanced (and dependant) future sooner than we think.