Last Monday, Ty Tonander (VP, Brand Design at ULTRA) and Julia Hunter Rancone (Director of Creative Strategy) happened to be in Seattle for a client meeting – the same day that Amazon Go opened its first cashier-less, App-controlled grocery store to the public. The pair had an opportunity to visit the store, and tell us about their experience:
How were you able to get in the store? Can anyone go in?
[Julia] You have to have the Amazon Go app loaded on your phone to go in. But, if you don’t have it and a friend, parent, or shopping buddy does, they can get you into the store on their app. On Monday, when we went, Ty had the app, but I didn’t. He swiped his app and I went in, and then he swiped again and he went in. From this point on, anything I picked up went in our virtual cart, and anything I walked out with was purchased through his app.
Did you have to shop together?
[Ty] No, and we purposefully picked up our grocery items from different parts of the store, put them in our own bags, and walked out separately. The e-receipt that was sent after we’d left the store had both of our items on it.
Where there shopping carts or baskets?
[Julia] No, they were handing out bright orange reusable Amazon Go bags and you just put your groceries right inside. No check out, so no need for baskets.
What was the store itself like? What kinds of brands were there?
[Ty] The first thing that struck me is how big it is. It’s actually quite small, under 2000 square feet, but I thought it would be much smaller. They had local brands like Beecher’s Crackers and Theo Chocolate, national brands like Nature’s Valley granola and DiGiorno, and even had a section dedicated to Whole Foods’ 365 branded products.
[Julia] And they also offered a lot of fresh foods, branded under Amazon Go. When you’re walking past the store, you don’t look into the actual store – you look into the kitchen where they are prepping ingredients and making the fresh to-go foods. It nicely offsets all of the packaged food, and makes it feel more like a grocery store than a convenience store – which is, I’ll confess, what I thought the store would end up feeling like.
Where there other Amazon Go branded products?
[Julia] Yes, they had partnered with local chocolate brand Theo and had an end cap with all of the chocolate bars, some coffee mugs that say “Just Walk Out” and Amazon Go branded water bottles.
[Ty] They have a dot pattern they use to tie the Amazon Go products together – on their salad and sandwich stickers, the water bottle – it’s subtle but interesting.
What were the prices like?
[Ty] Super reasonable. Salads were just over six dollars and any of the packaged foods were the same prices you’d see at a big grocery store.
Would you shop there regularly?
[Ty] I would pop in for lunch items – their fresh/prepared meals all looked delicious! It’s not somewhere that I would do large grocery trips.
[Julia] Same here. I would stop there for lunches, convenience items and maybe a last minute dinner, but my shopping habits are strong and pretty traditional – I do one big shopping trip during the week. I rarely pick up groceries during the week.
Do you think most people would have the same opinion?
[Julia] There are some that would, and some that wouldn’t. Target and Wal-Mart have already created stores with smaller footprints to reach the casual multi-week shopper that doesn’t want the big store experience – those that want to get in and get out. Amazon Go – at least this store – was built in that vein. Now, what would be interesting to me is to shop at a bigger store with this technology. It would save me from the inevitable toddler meltdown during check out.
Last question: when you were done shopping, what do you do?
[Julia] You walk right out of the gates you first walk into – where you swipe your app. But you don’t have to swipe your app when you leave. It just knows.
[Ty] And then a few minutes later, you get your receipt. We actually lingered outside the store until we could verify our purchases, not knowing if it would account for everything we purchased. It is a little strange to walk out the door of a grocery store without going through a cashier. I think it’ll take some getting used to, but it does feel like the future – it’s so easy.