Photo by Artificial Photography on Unsplash

Re-tale Retail

I’m still stuck on this New York Times survey ranking the importance of the big 5 tech companies:

Source: New York Times

I voted Amazon off the island first because I barely use it. I prefer the in-store retail experience mainly because I can interact with the goods I’m about to purchase and get that instant gratification. But in-store experiences are still painful.

I wrote a quick idea about chatbots in the retail space a while back:

I’d probably listen to a bot if I asked it about a shirt I’m looking at in Wal-mart and the bot told me the shirt I’m browsing is the cheapest of its kind in the area, it matches with 47% of the things in my wardrobe and only consumes 14% of my monthly shopping budget — Can a Bot learn to ABC?

I think it would cool to have a personal shopping aide. That chatbot would help validate my purchasing decisions, and that would reduce the impulse buying habit I have in stores.

In-store is pretty exhausting too, especially grocery shopping. Constant stop-and-go with the cart, pulling items off the rack, and reading through 50 words of fine print just to see there’s an ingredient I can’t eat, and finally putting the item back. It would be a huge time saver to have an app that uses image recognition to scan packaging and come back to me with a big green check-mark if it matches dietary restrictions, health goals, isn’t in my pantry at home and complements other things I have or am buying.

It would also be nice if I could skip the line-up which is the biggest bottle neck in a store. That Amazon ad got me thinking, and why not take it a step further? Why even leave your car? I think if Wal-mart can rationalize their customer’s top 50 small-sized products purchased, it could definitely set up a drive-thru for those goods. Let your customers drive by, pick up to 8 items like the express checkouts, and have a robot quickly pull together their order like a vending machine. I can’t imagine all the times I’ve had to go inside a massive store for 1 item and wait in line for 10 minutes, totally unnecessary.

While Amazon can service us from the comfort of our homes, I think it’s nice to get out and do some shopping once in a while, and maybe some consumer facing tech products can make the experience amazon-g.

Out of pure coincidence, a day after I posted this, the HBO TV series Silicon Valley presented an app called “See-Food”, which was similar to an app called MealSnap from 2011. It did the health goals component of this idea, but not dietary restrictions and complementary product selection.