Amazon Go: How Will This Checkout-Free Grocery Store Change the Restaurant Industry?

In times when speed and efficiency are highly-valued qualities by the everyday consumer, Amazon, the logistics tech giant, has opened the first grocery store of its kind to appease such demands.

Although it is currently in beta-testing and will not be open to the public until early 2017, Amazon Go is the first brick-and-mortar grocery store where no physical checkouts are required. So, how are transactions made? It is all done digitally through Amazon’s “Just Walk Out Technology.” When guests with Amazon Prime memberships enter the store, all the items in their possession are scanned and charges are made on their accounts.

How could this technology be used in the restaurant space to improve guest experience? Is commercializing this seamless technology even a possibility? And with Amazon Go’s quick-and-easy options, including to-go, chef-prepared meals, how will this affect foodservice as a whole, when hungry guests can swing by for a quick bite as opposed to a local fast casual?

Earlier in November, Foodable covered Amazon’s announcement and our experts chimed in on how these futuristic grocery stores could impact restaurant operators and their businesses.

“First and foremost, what a great wakeup call for our industry. If anyone in our industry is taking anything for granted, what a gift Amazon is providing us...Amazon knows how to deliver experience,” restaurant brand coach Rudy Miick, CMC, MA, said.

And Miick is right — this e-commerce giant’s entire brand promise is to commit to brand experience. From transforming the retail market for bookstores in its early days to now bringing cloud services to consumer tablets and Fire TV, it’s no surprise seeing Amazon breach another vertical for growth.

Amazon Go, bringing the e-commerce brand from the digital to the physical, will entice guests with ready-made meals, fresh breakfast, lunch, dinner, baked goods, milk, cheeses, and more from household name brands and artisanal merchants, according to Fortune. Customers will also be able to pick up Amazon Meal Kits, which concept rivals that of home-cooking services like Blue Apron.  

“Amazon is smart to transcend into the arena of physical grocery stores. If Amazon is going to make an impact on the grocery business, it’s going to have to do something aggressive to penetrate the market owned by Walmart,” Burns said. “I don’t think restaurants need to worry as much as Walmart does. Restaurants still have the advantage because a lot of people don’t cook at home.”

However, even if the restaurant industry is not directly affected by Amazon’s grocery stores, its technology has the potential to influence and penetrate into the restaurant and retail space like never before.

“In today’s market, people like convenience. Just like any business that offers a competitive product, there will be some loss of market share to restaurants. However, this is a great opportunity to model the process and fit it to your concept,” Andrew Carlson, consultant and author of  Customer Service Is the Bottom Line, said.

If it is possible to commercialize this subtle technology, it could change the way transactions — especially in foodservice and hospitality — are conducted forever.