Amazon has opened its first full-sized Amazon Go grocery store, and just like the smaller versions it has opened to date, this store is pretty short on screens.
Two years after launching a set of c-stores that didn’t have cashiers or checkout lines, using sensors and a lot of AI to allow shoppers to “just walk out”, a new 7,700 sq. foot store opened this morning in Seattle, not all that far (predictably) from Amazon’s HQ.
This store is much like the other, smaller ones. You use an app to scan your way into the store, then do your normal shopping, dropping things into a grocery cart and bagging as you go. Cameras and AI log what you remove from shelves. You just walk out and the items are charged via your app and account.
If this is indeed the future of grocery shopping – and the prevalence of self-service checkouts suggests that anyway – the supermarket of the future is not exactly riddled with digital signs.
Having been in this industry for 20+ years, I can remember visions of supermarkets filled with screens, at the entries, in the aisles, on end-caps and in the checkout lanes. Digital signage would be fundamental to how grocery in-store marketing was done.
But it hasn’t played out that way. There are screens, certainly, at deli counters and take-home meal areas. But otherwise, digital signage is focused on the shelf-edge, and small. This new grocery in Naples – with LCD ribbons and headers that can double as pricing tags – may be a better idea of one future – albeit at the premium end.
Reading through and looking at all the photos from this GeekWire tour of the store suggests there are indeed some portrait mode displays here and there. I think that’s a good reflection of what is generally happening in retail.
Anyone in this industry who thinks retail will deliver them big numbers in licenses and displays should understand the sheer numbers of stores in a big chain might deliver a bunch of licenses, but store by store, there’s not a lot to indicate future store design is focused on putting LCDs all over the place. Screens will only, likely, go in if they have a clear operating or bottom line benefit.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.