Here’s a thought starter: Is it a product failure if a retailer installs Amazon’s cashier-less Just Walk Out technology but no customers actually use it to check out?

While it’s tempting to say yes, the performance analytics potential of Just Walk Out may make it very valuable even if no one uses it to check out. Analogous to how website analytics platforms (e.g., Google Analytics, Adobe Market Cloud [formerly Omniture]), track every customer click or hover so that merchandisers can optimize the experience, I could foresee Just Walk Out becoming a “store analytics” platform that provides similar data and insights to retailers.

Recently Amazon announced that its Just Walk Out technology was being implemented in Whole Foods stores, in addition to its current place at Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh Stores. Just Walk Out is available for retailers to license similar to the way AWS licenses technology products to third parties.

I could foresee Just Walk Out becoming a “store analytics” platform that provides similar data and insights to retailers.

Frank Kochenasch

President, Wunderman Thompson Commerce

While cashier-less transactions have the potential to transform retail (especially in the convenience, drug and grocery segments), I believe the analytical potential has been underappreciated. Furthermore, consider that some sort of scalable analytical capability is needed as a prerequisite for truly personalized in-store digital experiences. Just Walk Out (and similar technologies) create a technical capability to firstly understand — at scale — how individual shoppers behave in store and creates the data to actually enable personalized services to that shopper.

This has obvious applications to retailers, and brands should pay close attention to this as well. Certainly, brands and retailers have mutual interest in creating great shopper experiences. We also envision early implementations of this type of technology on limited sections of the store, such as observation-only implementations of Just Walk Out. For example, Tyson and QVC may be mutually interested in understanding how this applies within the deli aisle. The insights gathered could fuel better shopper experiences. There are also implications on shelf management and inventory management as this technology could improve measurement of in-store inventory. One could imagine a more just-in-time model, where store inventory is lower and more frequently replenished based on demand, while more inventory is maintained at a local/micro fulfillment center that holds stock for fulfillment of online orders as well as replenishment of smaller stores.

As retailers and brands continually press for the store-of-the-future or the shopping-experience-of-the-future, I believe this technology can play an interesting role.

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