Have you heard about Amazon’s new “Go” stores?
They have no cashiers and no checkout. That means no lines and no waiting.
You simply grab what you want and “go.”
Computer vision and sensors gather data on what you take as you shop, and then they pass this information to Amazon. You must have the Amazon Go app on as you’re in the store, and then your account gets automatically charged.
For now, Amazon Go focuses on ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options made by local chefs. They’ll also include meal kits you can take-and-go for your whole family, plus grocery essentials like bread, milk, and others.
Currently, Amazon has a total of four Go stores located in Seattle (3) and Chicago (just one).
However, they plan to have 3,000 stores in place by 2021, which would make them the third largest convenience store chain behind 7-Eleven and Circle K.
What Does This Mean for C-Store Owners?
If you’re a c-store owner, how should you react to this?
Should you feel terrified, wondering if this spells the end for many c-stores just like Amazon helped do for many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers?
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods (now owned by Amazon), believes that Amazon isn’t doing this to make a profit. He thinks Amazon wants to gather data on consumer behavior.
For example, Amazon will be able to tell how many milliseconds (1/1000th of a second) a consumer spends considering a purchase. And just like the internet, Amazon will know exactly what consumers want to buy.
Even so…3,000 more c-stores in play with this ability may make times rough for others in the niche.
What Should You Do?
Amazon’s really a tech company. They have all sorts of built-in capabilities that other retailers can’t duplicate.
You’ll only fall behind if you copy Amazon.
So what can you do?
Not deals and discounts. Those quick-fixes cause large long-term problems.
Instead, you have to keep optimizing that in-store experience.
Keep your bathrooms pristine. Have window-washing fluid and wipers always available if you sell gas.
Try different types of food and groceries to find what sells best. Make sure that fresh aromas circulate around your store to encourage purchasing.
Buy in as large of volumes as possible to negotiate discounts with your suppliers.
Offer deals and discounts in exchange for email addresses. Build and test loyalty programs.
Amazon can’t make everyone happy. And you can learn how to serve your niche better than Amazon and everyone else so you don’t have to worry about losing market share.