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Episode 61
February 19, 2018

We Pay a Visit to Amazon Go

We fulfill a promise to our listeners and provide an in-depth review of Amazon Go - including food, assortment, experience, and how the technology will be applied and extended into the future. Listen now!

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We fulfill a promise to our listeners and provide an in-depth review of Amazon Go - including food, assortment, experience, and how the technology will be applied and extended into the future.

Show Notes

Main Takeaways

  • Brian and Phillip take a trip to flagship Amazon Go Store in Seattle and enjoy the experience.
  • How is an Amazon Go location set up, and what are some of the logistics in its day to day operations?
  • Can the Amazon Go model be applied to other retailers?
  • Shipping With Amazon might be Amazon's most significant business venture to date.

Is Amazon Go the Future?

  • Phillip says yes, and that future is now.
  • Amazon Go is basically a grocery store that allows you to pick up any item and that item is automatically tagged, added to your cart, and is then charged to your Amazon Prime account upon leaving (as long as you have the app)).
  • Phillip and Brian were excited about Amazon Go over a year ago.

Did the Experience Live Up to the Hype?

  • Brian and Phillip ventured to an Amazon Go location together to see what the experience was actually like.
  • Brian says the Amazon Go experience was "good, easy, and exactly what it was advertised to be."
  • Brian also experimented with picking items up and then putting them back on the shelf.
  • Phillip says that he loved the experience.

Amazon Go: The Set Up:

  • Phillip and Brian agree that the store is not huge, but more akin to a convenience store (Or a "Whole Foods) convenient store" according to Brian).
  • Phillip describes the products as "a really wide selection of a lot of things with unique selections in between" and goes into some serious detail of all the food items that are for sale.
  • There was also a good selection of high-end items.
  • How does the set-up contribute to the overall experience?
  • Phillip points out that some of the sensors that track customer activity looked more commercial as opposed to industrial.
  • What kinds of sensors are being used to detect what products are removed from the shelves?

Amazon Go: The Haul:

  • Since it was breakfast time, Brian walked out with a sandwich from a locally sourced bakery that was pretty good (for a convenience store breakfast sandwich).
  • Phillip also left with a breakfast sandwich.
  • Both Brian and Phillip agree that there were some pretty good, higher-end selections to be found.
  • In addition to free cream cheese for bagel purchases, there was also free Cholula Hot Sauce and Sriracha packages. Bless.
  • Alert: there was no hot coffee to be found anywhere in the store. (Unless Brian and Phillip couldn't find it.)
  • For the products that were of the local variety (as in not pre-packed or mass produced), Phillip points out that there were unique QR codes that must help the sensors identify these items.

The Logistics and the Competitive Landscape:

  • Brian questions what the minimum number of staff would be to run a store like this, given the unique new factors this retail set up introduces.
  • Will Amazon release any numbers detailing what it costs to staff a store like this (especially for a store that is not a flagship store).
  • Phillip hopes that he sees some sort of Moore's Law that comes with this sort of tech innovation.
  • Philip also points out that there are other companies that are implementing this technology in much larger stores than the Amazon Go store.
  • Phillip thinks there will be innovation from a lot more players aside from just Amazon.
  • Brian adds that we will see a lot more examples of this, a lot quicker than we might think.
  • Will Amazon make this technology available for other retailers? (Probably not for Walmart.)

Beyond Amazon: Implementing Consumer Ecosystems:

  • Phillip wonders if other retailers would find success in a retail model like Amazon Go without the existing ecosystem that Amazon has established with its customers.
  • Will this technology be useful in any other retail experience aside from a convenience store?
  • With the phasing out of physical media for music, Best Buy is giving Phillip fewer reasons to shop there. (Who knew CDs would be such a trigger point for Phillip?)
  • Brian reveals that he only shops at Amazon and Costco.
  • Brian cleverly states that "there is no reason to go out of your way to have more convenience."

Shipping with Amazon: A New Goliath on the Horizon:

  • Shipping WIth Amazon (SWA) is probably a bigger announcement than Amazon Go.
  • Phillip predicts that SWA might be the biggest part of Amazon's business in five years.
  • Phillip calls FedEx and UPS the "cockroaches of logistics."
  • With Target's recent acquisition of Shipt, Phillip points out that other entities are rising to compete with Amazon.
  • Brian wonders if UPS or FedEx are anticipating the shrinkage that may occur once SWA gets up and running.

Final Thoughts on Amazon Go:

  • To harken back to Episode 21, Brian exclaims that Amazon Go "is the future of shopping."
  • Phillip says that a few years ago, he would have made fun of Amazon for a venture like Amazon Go, but Amazon has continued to prove that they can deliver on experiences like this.
  • Brian wonders if Amazon will release a new phone this year.

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Download MP3 (42.9 MB)

Brian: [00:01:07] Welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge and next-generation commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:12] And I'm Phillip.

Brian: [00:01:14] And today we are talking about probably one of the most exciting things happening in retail today. Amazon Go.

Phillip: [00:01:24] Amazon Go. We've promised it, and now we're delivering.

Brian: [00:01:27] Yes.

Phillip: [00:01:28] Can you believe it?

Brian: [00:01:29] Yeah. We talked about Amazon Go when it was first released. I think we were pretty stoked about it then. It was a...

Phillip: [00:01:36] And to be honest, we were kind of green. We were twenty one episodes in. We were mere babes.

Brian: [00:01:42] And now we're sixty one episode in. This is episode sixty one.

Phillip: [00:01:46] Yeah. And it's actually almost it's a little over a year ago. So this was on I think January 21st or so, 2017, which we wove in a bunch of predictions and stuff and like actually we have a clip of it. Listen to how excited we are about Amazon Go when we're talking about it at the time.

Clip of Brian: [00:02:04] So little preview to that, Amazon Go is the future.

Clip of Phillip: [00:02:08] Amazon Go is the future. What's crazy is it's the future right now.

Clip of Brian: [00:02:14] Yeah. Yeah, man.

Clip of Phillip: [00:02:15] It's the future in the way that Starbucks thinks that voice ordering is the future. I don't know. I love the fact that Amazon is doing this. If anybody can do this, it's Amazon. For those who don't know, this is a basically a grocery store where there's a concept that's already up and running in Seattle, I think? Question mark.

Clip of Brian: [00:02:36] I don't think that Seattle actually. Actually, I think it is in Seattle.

Clip of Phillip: [00:02:40] Maybe Portland.

Clip of Brian: [00:02:40] No, it's Seattle.

Clip of Phillip: [00:02:40] I think it's in Seattle. So it's up and running. It's sort of this open beta. As long as you have the Amazon Go app, you can walk right into the store and you can pick up any item, any item that you pick up off a shelf through some means of product tagging and through image recognition and some software that they have running on cameras in the store. They sort of add it to your virtual cart. You walk out with the items in your bag or in a basket...

Clip of Brian: [00:03:12] Done.

Clip of Phillip: [00:03:12] And done it just charges it to your Amazon Prime account, which is like. Exactly...

Phillip: [00:03:17] And that, you know, with the exception of it, not being in Portland was 100% still correct a year later.

Brian: [00:03:25] Yeah, it was. I mean...

Phillip: [00:03:27] Yeah.

Brian: [00:03:27] It was it exactly what they advertised it to be.

Phillip: [00:03:31] And guess what? We went there.

Brian: [00:03:33] And we went there.

Phillip: [00:03:34] This whole episode is just us talking about it. So... All right. So, Brian, give some context here. Tell me sort of just at a glimpse, so you don't have to wait for the whole episode, what did you think of the Amazon Go experience?

Brian: [00:03:48] It was good. It was easy. It was exactly what it was advertised to be. Scan your app. You walk in, you pick up stuff and you leave. And that's how easy it was.

Phillip: [00:04:01] Yeah, it really was. And it's funny because we actually met up in the morning. We got there anticipating, you know, a line of some kind. In fact, they even had like a bunch of stanchions setup like for a queue. But there was none of that. We got there right as it opened right at about 7 o'clock.

Brian: [00:04:20] Obviously, there was a lot of retail tourism that happened upfront where people went there for the novelty of it to check it out.

Phillip: [00:04:30] Sure.

Brian: [00:04:30] It was so practical, though. And so easy. I can't imagine that there will be a line now that's sort of the shine has worn off because you just check in and you walk out.

Phillip: [00:04:42] Yeah.

Brian: [00:04:42] It's that fast. I think people were probably enamored with the concept, you know, trying to trick the cameras and all of that. There was a lot of that going on. And that's not something we attempted really. I did pick up some stuff and put it back, which was pretty cool to see how that worked. Just put it right back, and it didn't charge you for it.

Phillip: [00:05:05] Yeah.

Brian: [00:05:09] I think from here on out there won't be a need for a line because people are going to realize, "Oh, I can actually use this as a thing. And it's just easy."

Phillip: [00:05:19] Yeah. And we both downloaded the app en route to the store. We took a Lift early in the morning, and we got there right at about the time that it opened. It's conveniently located right next to the new sort of globe dome structure that is I think also an Amazon office or something, right?

Brian: [00:05:43] Yeah. It's like a rainforest office. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:05:46] Right. Which is... Exactly. And the first thing that I noticed is well, there was no line out the door, but they did have two people standing out front sort of welcoming folks in and kind of explaining it to those who haven't been part of the store. And despite a bunch of signage, they had two actual human beings stationed outside, and we engage with them briefly and here's that exchange.

Recorded Phillip: [00:06:11] We are podcasters and we talk about retail, and we've been kind of hyping this for six weeks.

Recorded Amazon Go Woman: [00:06:18] Nice.

Recorded Phillip: [00:06:18] I'm from Florida. So this is like a big trip for me.

Recorded Amazon Go Woman: [00:06:21] Well welcome.

Recorded Phillip: [00:06:21] It's the whole reason I'm here, just so you know.

Recorded Amazon Go Woman: [00:06:23] Awesome.

Recorded Phillip: [00:06:23] And I have my mic. I don't know if it's like OK or not for us to kind of just talk what we're doing while we're in there. Is that a...?

Recorded Amazon Go Woman: [00:06:31] Actually there is a PR part. Direct all of your questions...

Phillip: [00:06:35] So basically direct all of your conversations and questions to Amazon PR and even though I very explicitly asked if I could record while we were in the store, we were basically directed to Amazon PR for any questions of the sort.

Brian: [00:06:50] It's probably fine. Like we probably could take our mics in there, but we just on the safe side.

Phillip: [00:06:57] Probably could. {laughter} And to be fair, we did take our microphone in there, but most of the recording that we got was actually really just sort of kind of lame, us talking about what's on the shelves. I thought we'd talk more about the experience and sort of our noticing the technical setup of the way that it is laid out and some of the things that we sort of noticed that were a little bit out of the ordinary for a normal store. So the first thing for me, I didn't give my hot take, I love this. There were people that walked in and out, you know, I don't know, two dozen people kind of made in and out, in and out, in and out real quick in our time in the store. And I think it actually tells you on the app, when you check out when you actually leave, it tells you how long you spent in the store. So I believe... I'll actually get the exact time here... But I think we spent well over 15 minutes in the store just kind of browsing around.

Brian: [00:07:50] Yeah totally. We did.

Phillip: [00:07:53] Yeah, it was actually no, no, no. It says the last trip time. It tells you right in the app. Last trip time was twelve minutes and twelve seconds.

Brian: [00:08:00] We were fast.

Phillip: [00:08:02] A lot faster than I thought we were. But it is basically a convenience store, right?

Brian: [00:08:07] Yeah, it's not huge.

Phillip: [00:08:08] No.

Brian: [00:08:08] It's small. Albeit there was some really cool things inside of there. Like compared to other convenience stores that I've been in, this was like a Whole Foods convenience store, basically.

Phillip: [00:08:21] Yeah. And, speaking of which, like there were some definite product cross-pollination.

Brian: [00:08:26] Yup.

Phillip: [00:08:26] The 365 brand was on display, which is, you know, Amazon, or I'm sorry. Whole Foods. Actually, they're one in the same. That is not a misspeak anymore. It's a Whole Foods, you know, sort of mainstay brand. That's their house brand for a bunch of things like...

Brian: [00:08:43] Yeah the way the food was packaged and the way that the food was displayed and everything, it felt like Whole Foods.

Phillip: [00:08:52] Sure. Yeah. Oh, for sure. Yeah, definitely. And what you got was a really wide selection of a lot of different types of things with unique selections in between. So when you first walk in, there are two sort of plexiglass or plastic doors in each lane that are, you know, sort of barring you from entry. If you've ever gone through an airport, an international airport, outside of the United States or in Europe, you'll have seen these sort of like, you know, doors that require you to swipe your Amazon Go barcode app overtop to recognize who you are when you walk in the store. And when you walk in, those two doors swing open. When you walk in, you're looking right at a whole bank of cold cases that wrap around sort of three quarter view from your left to your right. So on the left, you sort of have, you know, drinks, sodas, waters, that sort of thing.

Brian: [00:09:48] Chocolate.

Phillip: [00:09:48] Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. There's some chocolate right there that's, you know, not necessarily in cold storage, but it's right next to it. And then right in front of you is sort of a selection of like a mix of, you know, breakfast foods which is...  Breakfast sandwiches...

Phillip: [00:10:05] All kinds of sandwiches. And then over right to the right, which kind of kicks out a little bit is...

Brian: [00:10:09] Bagels. Free cream cheese.

Phillip: [00:10:13] Oh, yeah. That was wonderful. They hyped that pretty big. The cream cheese was free. Thank you so much, Amazon. And then on that same wall, you know, nuts and prepackaged snacks, that sort of thing. But in that one little space, there is two to three times more food and choices of the same types of food packed in than you would see in a standard convenience store. For sure.

Brian: [00:10:41] I agree. Yeah. Because it's a lot taller, I think, than a lot of the shelves in such other convenience stores. Also, maybe we're just tired of everything that's convenience stores and we just skip over almost everything that we see because it's just like, Oh, why would I every buy that?

Phillip: [00:10:55] Yeah, for sure.

Brian: [00:10:57] And so everything in this store kind of looked appealing to me. Most of it was like, oh yeah, I kind of want to get that.

Phillip: [00:11:08] For sure. And like, really high end choices. So you have really nice selection of bar chocolates, and you have really like almost niche sort of sodas and artisanal sort of sodas and craft sodas and waters and that sort of thing.

Brian: [00:11:26] Yeah. Along with like Coca-Cola products, too.

Phillip: [00:11:29] Yeah, that was surprising.

Brian: [00:11:31] Yeah. That was interesting. Like there were like what I would consider sort of more generic or standard offerings available in the store. Things that most of America would expect to see in a store, in a convenience store. But instead of like mixing in with sort of like other downmarket market generic products, they mix it in with like more upmarket products for convenience store, at least.

Phillip: [00:12:00] For sure. Yeah. So one of the things I noticed was as the products are organized on the shelves, every product sits in a very clearly defined sort of lane.

Brian: [00:12:09] Which made the store feel very organized.

Phillip: [00:12:13] And clean.

Brian: [00:12:14] Yeah. Super clean.

Phillip: [00:12:15] Very. Yeah. So it's like every little product has its own little space. You rarely see the same product two up next to each other on a shelf. Right? It's usually like most of the products are one particular like style or like one bar of chocolate. And there're many of those types of flavors to choose from. But it usually is just like one bar of chocolate in its own lane. And there are plastic dividers on either side to kind of keep it from, you know, moving around like it's going to stay right there where it's supposed to. And that makes sense.

Brian: [00:12:48] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:12:48] If they're tracking all these things with cameras.

Brian: [00:12:50] There were all kinds of sensors everywhere, like you could see them if you looked up. You could see them behind things.

Phillip: [00:12:56] Yeah.

Brian: [00:12:56] It was clear that, you know, everything was being monitored in a way. They weren't trying to hide it. They didn't try to make it look like it wasn't there.

Phillip: [00:13:05] One thing that I thought was really interesting and this is pure speculation, I don't know anything about the tech really that goes into this. But...

Brian: [00:13:12] Does anyone? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:13:13] In the ceiling... No, I don't know that anybody really does. {laughter} So in the ceiling, the cameras, like the camera arrays are there. Like you said, they're visible. They're not obtrusive. But they're there. But they look much more like consumer level technology than, I mean, it could just be Amazon spit and polish on it. But they looked very much like very similar to almost like an X-Box connect. Right?

Brian: [00:13:46] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:13:47] It looked a lot like that.

Brian: [00:13:48] Yeah. Instead of like being sort of commercial industrial, it looked a lot more consumer friendly. I mean that's that's not too surprising, I think.

Phillip: [00:13:59] Oh no.

Brian: [00:13:59] It's not hard to add a little shine to stuff these days. So I think that was a nice touch.

Phillip: [00:14:05] Yeah. And what looked like... So behind the products... This was kind of impressive. Behind the products on the back of the shelf, on the back wall of the shelf. It looked like every foot or so was like a little sensor that was poking out and I couldn't tell. It actually looked like it had like a little foam windscreen. It looks like it might be a microphone. Like, I don't know if that's totally the case. It could just be some sort of like proximity sensor or some like I don't know what that is, but it definitely was there an obvious. Right?

Brian: [00:14:40] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:14:41] Yeah. So very, very interesting. And it was discreet. There were no wires hanging around. It was definitely it felt like everything was done really, really well. And what else would we expect? Right?

Brian: [00:14:53] Right. Yeah. I mean...

Phillip: [00:14:55] OK, so... Sorry. Carry on.

Brian: [00:14:57] Oh I was going to say this, that this feels like an Amazon type implementation of something.

Phillip: [00:15:01] Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah. So I'm really impressed with that. We did wind up purchasing some stuff. So what did you wind up buying? I forget. It was breakfast time.

Brian: [00:15:13] Yeah a breakfast sandwich. I got a breakfast sandwich, and it was good.

Phillip: [00:15:17] Do you remember what it was exactly?

Brian: [00:15:19] Yeah, it was like it was I think was a local bakery. It was ....... bakery that made the sandwich. It was like an egg white sandwich. And it had some, like, fresh bell pepper on it.

Phillip: [00:15:31] Oh, yeah, that's right. Oh, that looked good.

Brian: [00:15:33] Yeah. It was really good for a convenience breakfast sandwich. It was really good. I like having fresh made stuff for convenience food. And then I think that again, this gets back to what we were talking about it. You know, the stuff that was in there, there were some good choices. And then again, this isn't like gourmet chef stuff, but it was higher end. It was, you know, stuff that you'd probably want to eat for breakfast, on the go.

Phillip: [00:16:09] And I had the same experience with my breakfast sandwich, which I also microwaved. I will say, you know what? We actually misspoke. The cream cheese wasn't the only free thing. They also had Cholula and Sriracha in packages for free.

Brian: [00:16:23] Oh yeah.

Phillip: [00:16:23] Which by the way, the first time I've ever seen Cholula in a package.

Brian: [00:16:27] I know that was awesome.

Phillip: [00:16:28] Which...

Brian: [00:16:29] You stole like five didn't you? {laughter}

Phillip: [00:16:30] Yeah. Oh, yeah. I took like seven or eight and they didn't charge me for them.

Brian: [00:16:34] It was truly like a convenience store experience. There were microwaves there. There was a little spot to sit. There were little areas for packets of ketchup and mustard and Cholula and Sriracha.

Phillip: [00:16:50] Right. Yeah. They totally expect like you are definitely going to microwave a sandwich here. You know what they are missing though is the little hot dogs on the like spinning hot wheels. Like the little rod. They're missing that. That they don't have.

Brian: [00:17:03] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:17:03] Probably because they can't put like a barcode on that spinning hot dog, you know.

Brian: [00:17:10] That and if they did that, it would have to be like Polish, you know, like some sort of like chorizo something or other.

Phillip: [00:17:19] I'm sure. I'm sure.

Brian: [00:17:22] Oh, you know what? Actually, speaking of which, something noticeably absent from the store, which was actually a little bit troubling. Either that or we just missed it all outright. Like there was no hot coffee in that store.

Phillip: [00:17:37] Oh, yeah. We actually we mentioned we were talking amongst ourselves like, yeah, there is no hot coffee in this store. Like nowhere.

Brian: [00:17:47] Either we missed it or it wasn't there.

Phillip: [00:17:50] Like was certainly not something you could dispense, right? Like they're not. There wasn't like a a cistern of coffee that we could dispense into a cup, which is something I would expect that you would want from, you know, a convenience store. But I guess you could grab a bottle of cold brew if you really wanted it, which, you know, I don't know. Yes. So that's interesting. So there are things that look like sort of noticeably absent. But what it makes up for it is in some really interesting things that are kind of out of the norm for a convenience store, which is take home meal kits.

Brian: [00:18:21] Yeah that was really cool.

Phillip: [00:18:22] Like of the blue apron type variety like. But the AmazonFresh brand. So that was really, really cool. It looked like there was an operational kitchen that was maybe preparing or prepping those types of things that was visible from the street with many people working in it. It looked like it was part of the same concept. It looked like it's adjoining.

Brian: [00:18:45] Yeah. I don't know if that was just for that Amazon Go or if...

Phillip: [00:18:50] I don't know. It could be part of Amazon. I don't know. I don't know what they were doing.

Brian: [00:18:54] Yeah, they could have been. It seemed like overkill for just that store. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they get so many people through there they need that. Yeah. That was interesting. The other thing that was interesting is that there was a selection of things that were more grocery store-esque there. You mentioned meal kits. There was also like pre-chopped fajita veggies. And chopped mushrooms.

Phillip: [00:19:15] Yeah. That was an interesting.

Brian: [00:19:17] There was pancake mix and breakfast cereal and, you know, a whole bunch of other things that you might want, you know, like, "Oh, I need to pick up something for breakfast in the morning. OK. I'll just got this on my way home," type stuff. Or, you know, "I need to grab something for dinner and I want to cook it," you know?

Phillip: [00:19:36] Sure.

Brian: [00:19:37] So there were things you could do that you could take with you that would be great for dinner.

Phillip: [00:19:44] Yeah. So that was interesting. And beyond that, really, I mean, there were definitely a lot of people that were working and active in the store. They were fronting up shelves. We had the two folks outside who sort of helped, you know, give context to the store. They gave us a free orange tote bag. That was nice of them. You know what I thought was really interesting? So on the products that are sort of the consumer packaged products that, you know, are the shelf stable variety... So those are the like cans of Coca-Cola and such. Those are they are just the products that you would find in a store. They're normal.

Brian: [00:20:29] Right.

Phillip: [00:20:30] There is nothing additional that's going on with them. There's no sticker on it. There's no... But for the products that are of like the local variety, like some of the bakery items that you said were from local bakeries. Like, what else do we see? What was the local bakery that we passed that had some products in there?

Brian: [00:20:48] I don't remember.

Phillip: [00:20:49] Not Altiera or something to that effect.

Brian: [00:20:51] I don't know. I don't remember.

Phillip: [00:20:54] It was like a local Seattle bakery who had some items in there, and they were all individually wrapped products. But it looked like there were like sort of fresh products. They're not, you know, shelf stable for long periods of time. Those sort of like soft, you know, cellophane type or like soft plastic wrapper type products, those all had very interesting QR-esque type codes on multiple sides.

Brian: [00:21:20] I wonder if it was for the store or if like those companies distribute these things to other places throughout Seattle. And so they have to have those on there for general distribution. You know what I mean?

Phillip: [00:21:34] I mean, potentially. But it was also on the bottom of the coffee mug that I bought as a souvenir that says "Just walk out shopping." So I don't know, maybe it's for in-store tracking. I assume because of the size of it that it's not just for like a handheld scanner. It looks like it's, you know, one of the... It's a very large sticker, you know, potentially so that it could recognize the type of item that it is.

Brian: [00:21:58] Could be.

Phillip: [00:22:01] I guess the thing I'm driving at is not just based on the, you know, recognition of the package or the label. It looks like certain products have some additional TLC that they have to apply to it to make it sort of work.

Brian: [00:24:13] Here's a thought that I had while we were there. And I think while we were there, we saw the two greeters out front. We saw a couple of people sort of stocking and moving things around. We saw the prep kitchen on the way in. What is the minimum staff that would be required to run a place like this? That is an interesting question to me, because I can tell you right now...

Phillip: [00:24:41] It's more than a normal, convenience store.

Brian: [00:24:44] Yeah. So you've eliminated the checkout. Great. That's great for convenience. As far as operational costs go, I didn't feel like it was very efficient. Now, of course, this is their flagship store. You know, they're going to have more people. They're greeting people. They're going to make sure everything's perfect all the time. So they're going to staff up just because it's the flagship. It's their initial location. But I'm really curious. And what I'd love to see Amazon come out with some numbers around what it would take to staff a store like this. If it wasn't the flagship store. What kind of operational costs that we looking at to keep one of these things going?

Phillip: [00:25:37] Well, my hope is that we sort of see a Moore's Law that comes along with this type of retail tech innovation. So every five years, not only does the technology get in a miniaturised, but we see some broad adoption and competing technologies that help, you know, drive market innovation in this space. And if you go back. We just launched it. We had four interviews that we did on Future Commerce Insiders. And so you'll have to go and subscribe to the email. Go to, and sign up for the FC Insiders email list. And when you get the welcome email, there will be a link there for Episode 3 of FC Insiders exclusive. And that third interview...

Brian: [00:26:19] Don't miss this, by the way.

Phillip: [00:26:21] Yeah, it's so good. So there's four interviews in there and one in particular, it was a company called Focal Systems who are already doing this in much larger stores than the eighteen hundred square foot Amazon Go store. Now they're doing it with, you know, a little more than just machine vision. And it's very much tied to a shopping cart like you have to be throwing items into a shopping cart. And it takes a little while to figure out that you threw the coffee filters into the cart. It's definitely beta level technology, but there are others in the space that are working on it. It's not just Amazon. And I think we'll see a lot more innovation from a lot of other players, and we'll see who... I think Amazon is already out on top. You know, as far as the transparency of the technology and definitely the media hype. But I think this might be coming to more than just Amazon Go, you know, stores as a concept in the future. I mean, you could see this at WaWa and Cumberland Farms, too.

Brian: [00:27:17] Right.

Phillip: [00:27:17] It's not a... I can see that being in a very near future, and it doesn't have to be so far off. So very, very cool.

Brian: [00:27:25] Yeah. I mean, so here's the other thing. And you know, Amazon Go is the first really like visible version of this. In the U.S.. Because in China, this this has been happening for quite some time, or at least, I shouldn't say it's been happening for some time, it's ahead of where we're at.

Phillip: [00:27:51] Right.

Brian: [00:27:52] So there're companies like Bingo Box and others that are a lot further along. I mean, I think Bingo Box has over 200 shops and was launched in 2016. Twenty nine different cities. And, you know, I don't think it's quite as smooth as Amazon Go. Obviously it's catered for a different market, but there's a lot of movement in China around this as well. I think Tencent is focused on this and there's a bunch of other stores out there, and big companies, that are focused on introducing these concepts in China. So, you know, I think we're gonna see a lot more of this a lot more quickly than we think because the technology is there. It's just a matter of getting people to actually buy in and implement. That's another question I have. Is Amazon going to make this technology available for other retailers? That's a really big question. And I don't see why they wouldn't as long as there a certain kind of retailer, you know what I mean?

Phillip: [00:29:14] Right.

Brian: [00:29:15] They're not going to make this available to Walmart, obviously, or other sort of pseudo competitors. Even like, you know, brands focused retailing in malls and stuff. I could see this coming into play.

Phillip: [00:29:36] Yeah, sure. At some point, though, it has to be you know, you have to sort of get on board with the Amazon ecosystem. So Amazon already had my payment method on file. I didn't have to set that up because I'm using my Amazon account. There's a lot of convenience of downloading, you know, a 10 meg application from the Google Play or iTunes store or whatever. There's a lot of convenience you have of already being in the Amazon ecosystem, which you would probably not have if you're just trying to shop at the Lucky brand jeans and get your machine vision jeans on your way out the door. I just don't see... {laughter} I don't see how a branded retailer stands to benefit in the same way that Amazon does because they have a whole ecosystem that kind of goes along.

Brian: [00:30:25] Sure.

Phillip: [00:30:26] But we are... I am bullish on the technology in the same way you are. I see it. I don't know that... I think we'll know it when we see it. I couldn't tell you how this is going to work for, you know, a retail clothing chain. But you know, this definitely the convenience store makes a lot of sense to me.

Brian: [00:30:46] Yeah totally.

Phillip: [00:30:46] Potentially with like, you know, consumer electronic goods, too. If I can have this experience in Best Buy, this might be a really great experience.

Brian: [00:30:55] Probably not going to happen at Best Buy.

Phillip: [00:30:57] Definitely not going to happen at Best Buy.

Brian: [00:30:59] At least with technology.

Phillip: [00:31:02] Sure. What's funny is, as a side note, and we're not really going to touch on news here, but the kinds of things that you would buy in this manner at like a Best Buy are slowly being phased out. Like so Best Buy just announced they're no longer carrying CDs or physical media for music. And that's being phased out of all their stores. And I think that that's really sad, like the kinds of things that made me want to go to Best Buy, beyond just the large purchase of a television every five years, they're giving me less and less reasons to want to shop there. So I don't...

Brian: [00:31:40] Dude. You may have just become the most crotchety you've ever become on the show. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:31:43] Yeah. Probably, yeah. My age is starting to show.

Brian: [00:31:49] Yeah that was definitely a show of age right there.

Phillip: [00:31:52] I mean, do you go and just buy like a Chromecast every single week at Best Buy? Is that just how you live your life?

Brian: [00:31:58] No, I don't go to Best Buy, man.{laughter}

Phillip: [00:32:02] {laughter} Where do you get that stuff? Amazon. You're not getting a Chromecast on Amazon.

Brian: [00:32:06] Not a Chromecast. To be fair, I shop at Amazon, and I shop at Costco. What else is there?

Phillip: [00:32:14] After 61 episodes of this show, I could not have told that... I'm being sarcastic. That's all I've ever heard you talk about is Amazon and Costco.

Brian: [00:32:23] Yeah. Pretty much.

Phillip: [00:32:25] Ok, so... Quick take. So the food was good. The experience was good. We're excited about the technology. I probably wouldn't go back, just to be honest with you, unless I was like right there for some reason. It's not destination.

Brian: [00:32:39] It's not a destination. Definitely not. Right. I agree with that. There's no reason to go out of your way to have more convenience.

Phillip: [00:32:46] Yeah. I mean... {laughter} Show title. Yeah, that's exactly the case. And to be honest with you, we spent way more time in there than you would in a normal store. But I think that's kind of the point of this first...

Brian: [00:32:58] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:32:58] Your first experience with the store.

Brian: [00:33:01] That's why there were lines at the store. There won't be lines...

Phillip: [00:33:04] Get some hot coffee, guys. Like seriously.

Brian: [00:33:06] Hot coffee, please.

Phillip: [00:33:07] How hard is that?

Brian: [00:33:08] Before we leave this episode, because you mentioned the Amazon ecosystem, Amazon had a huge announcement this week. Huge.

Phillip: [00:33:17] I have no idea what you're about to talk about. What's their big announcement?

Brian: [00:33:20] Shipping with Amazon.

Phillip: [00:33:21] Oh, yeah, that.

Brian: [00:33:22] Yeah just that.

Phillip: [00:33:23] Now I remember. That's all.

Brian: [00:33:23] Yeah. So SWA is maybe even bigger, from like shake up the market perspective, probably a bigger announcement than Amazon Go.

Phillip: [00:33:40] From a long term strategic and probably value perspective, absolutely, and they will do probably for logistics what they've done for web hosting and cloud virtualization that they've done with AWS. I fully believe that. This could be the biggest part of their entire business in five years.

Brian: [00:34:00] It could be. Exactly.

Phillip: [00:34:02] Yeah.

Brian: [00:34:02] Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think they're gonna have to be careful with this one because this is the area where like you've got UPS and FedEx out there, you can't put them out of business. You cannot put them out of business because you need a competitor.

Phillip: [00:34:21] Yeah, you won't put them out of business. They need your business. UPS and FedEx, you know, and their growth trajectory has tracked right along with Amazon over the last 20 years.

Brian: [00:34:31] Right.

Phillip: [00:34:32] And they depend on Amazon every bit as much as Amazon depends on them. Amazon is in a unique position to be able to take an already existing network of local drivers and couriers and delivery infrastructure that they already do from distribution center to another distribution center and enable that workforce to do point to point delivery within a very small and limited geographic area. And this is a very small test, to be sure.

Brian: [00:34:59] Right.

Phillip: [00:35:01] But if anyone can, and we said this 40 episodes ago, if anyone can do it, it's Amazon.

Brian: [00:35:07] Yup.

Phillip: [00:35:07] And they'll find a way to roll this out and begin to compete with... This is their M.O. This is what they do.

Brian: [00:35:12] Yep.

Phillip: [00:35:13] They partner and then they turn and compete. That's how it's always worked with Amazon. So, yeah, I mean RIP FedEx. That's how I sort of see it.

Brian: [00:35:23] I'm saying Amazon can't put FedEx out of business.

Phillip: [00:35:26] I think that they can. I think that they absolutely can. It's in the long term.

Brian: [00:35:31] Ok. Ok. Of course they can. I'm saying they shouldn't.

Phillip: [00:35:32] I mean, hold on. Hold on. If Xerox and Fuji are still around like 30 years later, OK, FedEx will always be here. FedEx and UPS will be the cockroaches of logistics. They're never gonna die off.

Brian: [00:35:47] Oh, that the show title. We just talked about Amazon Go for 30 minutes, and that is the show title. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:35:57] There are certain types of like corporate entities that will never, ever, ever die. RadioShack still exists to some degree. Like somehow some of these things just continue to survive. Like every single day Sears lays off two hundred thousand more employees and closes 25 more stores. Like, how does that even happen? How are they still here? But they are. So, yes, FedEx will still exist.

Brian: [00:36:18] No, what I meant was, by the way, it's not that they can't put them out of business. They absolutely could eventually. But they really shouldn't because that's going to put them in a tough position with...

Phillip: [00:36:30] Yeah, it would show some ignorance on our part to suggest that would ever happen or that they would ever want to do that. They're valuable partners to each other.

Brian: [00:36:37] Right.

Phillip: [00:36:37] They enable each other.

Brian: [00:36:39] They enable each other, but also it would put Amazon in a position of being looked at as a monopoly. I mean, they own everything.

Phillip: [00:36:44] Ugh. They already are.

Brian: [00:36:46] Well no, I wouldn't consider Amazon a monopoly. I've already said this on the show. Amazon is a new kind of business. This is a different... It's not a monopoly. It's a different... And they have a lot of competition across all their different businesses. But it's just so expensive. But if they put FedEx and UPS out of business, which I think they have no intention of doing, by the way. I don't think they're going to attempt to put them out of business.

Phillip: [00:37:14] No, no, but that's not the point. The point is not that they're going to, you know, anyone putting anyone else out of business. That's not what I thought you were saying. The point that I was trying to make is that this is the kind of thing that, you know, that I think gets an Amazon shareholder excited and a FedEx shareholder scared.

Brian: [00:37:34] Of course.

Phillip: [00:37:35] That's what happens. And there are other people who are finally rising to actually challenge Amazon and its dominance. So, you know, Shipt was acquired by Target and there is already signage in my local target saying two hour delivery through Shipt from my local Target in the middle of nowhere. Palm Beach, Florida. We're nowhere. We're not a major market. We're not even a media market. I mean, I guess you could consider the Miami media market, but we're not the first on the list to get those kinds of things. And it's already here. And you're seeing the same thing, same kind of challenger and strategic challenging of Amazon online in its marketplace with Walmart. So it's going to get tougher for Amazon. They need to do things like this to compete. Now, they just announced, and this is tangential but related, they just announced Amazon Prime now delivery through their Whole Foods stores for prime members.

Brian: [00:38:35] Right.

Phillip: [00:38:39] It's an obvious thing. We said it 30 episodes ago. That's definitely a thing that we all expected that they would do. But what I'm saying is that Amazon's not alone in this kind of, if you want to call it innovation, or these kind of strategies. Others are starting to step up, too. And so the FedExes and UPSes of the world need not worry, as far as I'm concerned.

Brian: [00:39:02] That's what I think, too. I agree with that. I mean, I think that it's not a worry. They just need to know there's another player in the game now, and there could be some shrinkage for UPS and FedEx. There probably will be some shrinkage. But I think it was naturally going to happen. This was always almost a foregone conclusion. I think we talked about this at some point earlier in the show when Amazon started looking at potentially acquiring some planes and things like that.

Phillip: [00:39:35] Oh, yeah, yeah, I remember that.

Brian: [00:39:37] So this was a long time coming. I bet you that UPS and FedEx even knew when they were going to roll this out. I don't know that for sure, but I would speculate that that was communicated to them because they're partners.

Phillip: [00:39:53] So. Okay, so back to Amazon Go. Any last words? Any any thoughts on, you know, on your experience? I'm just trying to close out that thought, because I really want to make sure that people understand like we liked it. Right? We liked it a lot.

Brian: [00:40:13] I liked it a lot. Yeah. It was awesome. I mean, this is the future of shopping right here. We said it on episode 21, and we're saying it again on episode 61. Amazon Go, this model is going to become pervasive at some point.

Phillip: [00:40:30] Yeah. And I think that they are taking a very sort of Apple-esque approach in that they're building retail experiences that are destinations now. And I would have made fun of them seven or eight years ago to try to do something like this. So it's my understanding of what Amazon is, is changing and evolving. And I see them as an incredibly mature and innovative company, whereas, you know, I laughed at them when they came out with the Fire Phone a few years ago. Now, I would actually kind of be excited if they came out with a phone.

Brian: [00:41:04] We just talked about this.

Phillip: [00:41:08] I know.

Brian: [00:41:08] I would be, too. I think I actually, I would predict that they're going to come out with another phone. There's rumors about this ice phone. I don't know if that's a bunch of just absolute fake news speculation.

Phillip: [00:41:20] I don't know. I don't know how I like I've segued back into some other new topic. The point that I was trying to make is that I'm not surprised by anything they do anymore, and they do it well.

Brian: [00:41:30] I speculate on that for one second before we close out the show. I wonder if Amazon will release the phone this year. It wouldn't be too surprising to me if they released another phone in August. And it wouldn't surprise me if it was like at a really low point price point either. Why not just take a Fire, make it smaller, and put some cell capability in it and boom, you've got a you know, $50 smartphone with Alexa in it. I don't know if that's happening or not... I don't know if that'll be the strategy. Maybe it won't be $50, maybe $100. But I see the Amazon strategy being reapplied to phones in a way that the Fire Phone clearly wasn't. The Five Phone was introduced to compete with flagship phones. I think Amazon is going to come in here and pull a fire tablet, tablet with miracle with phone in it.

Phillip: [00:42:35] Right, right. Right, right. Yeah. Like lower end of the market, mass sort of adoption. Yeah. Cheap price point. You know, if they could figure out the prepaid carrier thing like Google's trying to do, that would also be an interesting play, something I'd be at least intrigued by. But I'm kind of a flagship phone guy, so I'm not going to I'm not likely to buy into it myself. But I do see it an interesting... Yeah, that is an interesting strategy.

Brian: [00:43:03] If they do...

Phillip: [00:43:04] Also it would fit in with their double-down down of Alexa.

Brian: [00:43:08] Exactly.

Phillip: [00:43:08] The discussion about them doubling down on Alexa that we talked about in episode 60. You know that conversation definitely makes sense in that context.

Brian: [00:43:19] Totally.

Phillip: [00:43:20] Okay.

Brian: [00:43:21] We've talked about enough besides Amazon Go now. I think that's the show.

Phillip: [00:43:25] That's it. That's really good. So really, really excited to have been there. We want to hear if you've been to Amazon Go. What was your experience? What did you buy? Would you go back? All that good stuff and you can tell us about that at, or you can always email us at or Also, make sure to like and subscribe, hit us up on i-Tunes. Give us 5-Star. Always love to hear your feedback over there and you can subscribe on Google Play, Apple podcast or wherever you get podcasts or on any what we say smart speaker devices these days. See it's the P.C. term because we have so many of them nowadays. You can listen from your any smart speaker with the phrase... What is the phrase? I guess it would have to be "Play Future Commerce podcast," right?

Brian: [00:44:16] "Assistant, play..." Whatever.

Phillip: [00:44:19] {laughter} Totally unrehearsed.

Brian: [00:44:22] Your assistant, not to be named...

Phillip: [00:44:25] All right. We've bungled this this this ending after our Amazon fanboy. I'm kind of actually exhausted. I would get some coffee, but they don't have any at the Amazon Go store. All right. And with that.

Brian: [00:44:40] Oh do you want to do all of our outro stuff? All right, let's do it. So thanks for listening to Future Commerce. We want you to give us feedback about today's show, so please leave us some feedback and Disqus comment box below. If you're subscribed on iTunes, as always, please leave us a five star review. And oh, Phillip already said the part about playing the show. So we're done. Retail tech is moving fast.

Phillip: [00:45:01] Future Commerce is moving faster. Peace.

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