Cashierless Stores Shape Future Of Retail

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Amazon continues to make physical real estate plays. As much as its technology is growing, it is equally growing its tangible footprint on the property landscape. After the buzz about the hunt for the new Amazon HQ, and the Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon has now opened the first of its Amazon Go retail stores.

Amazon Go is a new concept store which goes further than any other retailers have so far. They are free of cashiers. You use your phone and Amazon Go app to unlock the store to get in. Then put your phone away, and cameras, and artificial intelligence tracks what you pick up off the shelves. Then you just walk out. Amazon automatically charges you for what you took.

Many other stores have already been working in this direction. Apple store staff all too often recommend shoppers just buy online with their phones. Tesla is famous for its showrooms. Walmart has been offering discounts for online ordering and store pickup, while replacing cashiers with self-checkouts. Restaurants like Chili’s and Olive Garden have tablets on the table so you can order, play games while you wait, and pay, without really needing a waiter. McDonalds and other fast food restaurants are now overwhelmed with self-order kiosks, and fully autonomous fast food restaurants may be here sooner than most think. Amazon just takes all of this one step further.

For consumers, technology like this, as well as autonomous cars can make shopping a lot easier, more efficient, and pleasant. You can bet Amazon has also done the math on per customer spend with this model too. If you aren’t handing over cash or even a card, or even viewing a bill, consumers are likely to spend a lot more per visit. The only downside is likely to be for workers in this industry who haven’t been learning new trades or careers. They will be hit hard when this all comes together and thousands are fighting for the few jobs left.

For retail property owners and managers, this calls for paying close attention to which tenants and prospective tenants are best integrating new technology. Those that are using it to operate hyper-efficiently. The more profitable tenants are, the more profitable retail plazas are. In turn, that can make retail property investments more profitable and secure too.