How TrendWatching brings order into the chaos of consumer expectations — a case study featuring Amazon Go

What does grocery checkout have in common with self-driving cars, sports sunglasses, Indian weddings, laundry folding, and flashing sneakers?

Hint: surfing in the #TrendWatching trend framework and innovation database along consumer expectations will reveal hidden connections.

No lines, no checkout — just grab and go!

Probably many of you saw in December the concept video produced by Amazon, showing Amazon Go, a new retail checkout system which doesn’t involve physical shopping baskets or checkout lines.

The concept is interesting both for its technology as well as the consumer expectations it serves. And it is a good example of how independent can be the technology and the consumer side of innovations:

similar tchnologies can serve totally different consumer needs and vica versa, similar consumer needs can be served by totally different technologies.

Technology

As for technology, it should be enough for now, what Amazon themselves state:

Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies as used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.

Consumer expectations

The consumer expectations this new experience serves aren’t unique either, but Amazon don’t elaborate on the similarities with other goods and services from this perspective. They just write: “We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line.”

And here comes in #TrendWatching handy.

Retail renaissance ( → Amazon’s physical bookstores)

TrendWatching published a trend briefing in 2011 under this title. (“Retail renaissance” isn’ part of TrendWatching’s premium trend framework any more for some reason, so we miss an updated description and recent examples.)

RETAIL RENAISSANCE | Smart retailers are defying doom and gloom scenarios, as they realize that shopping in the real world will forever satisfy consumers’ deep rooted needs for human contact, for instant gratification, for the promise of (shared) experiences, for telling stories. Hence the flurry of new formats, technologies, capabilities, and products that now are delighting retail customers around the world.
Here are just four drivers behind RETAIL RENAISSANCE (there are many more, but we think you’ll get the point):
OFF=ON: How the benefits of shopping online can now be had offline by consumers too.
RETAIL SAFARI: How experiences still rule.
INSTANT STATUS FIX: How shopping in the real world delivers instant status gratification in a way that online (still) can’t.
CITYSUMERS: The future of consumerism is urban, and urban culture is retail culture. On a global level.

And knowing this trend, it is less than surprising that Amazon, known primarily as an online retailer has opened several physical bookstores lately:

WELCOME TO AMAZON BOOKS

“As a physical extension of Amazon.com, Amazon Books integrates the benefits of offline and online shopping to help you find books and devices you’ll love.
We select books based on Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments.
We place books face-out on the shelves, so each can communicate its own essence. Under each book is a review card with the Amazon.com customer rating and a review. Most have been rated 4 stars or above and many are award winners.”

And, apparently, now they took a big step further down this road with their grocery checkout concept.

Intuitive interfaces, Time saviours, Cash-less, Off=On

And there are more trends playing a role here.

Recently, TrendWatching have listed Amazon Go in its innovation database (premium login needed to follow the link) showing the trends and megatrends they assigne the concept to, hereby creating links to hundreds of services that cater to similar consumer expectations in some way or another.

The related trends are the following (premium login needed to follow the links below):

INTUITIVE INTERFACES — Consumers are adopting technologies that let them interact naturally with their environment — in this respect, Amazon Go is related among many others to Oakley’s Radar Pace smart sunglass, which feature a a real-time voice activated coaching system.

CASH-LESS — In more mature economies, technological advances and consumers’ desire for convenience are driving innovations in cashless transactions. On the other hand, in developing countries, where mobile penetration is high yet banking infrastructure is poor, consumers heavily rely on CASH-LESS innovations for every day transactions — also under this trend among many others: UberWeddings, a joint promotion of Uber and an Indian wedding planning website to help transport big families around the big event.

TIME SAVIORS — Consumers will always have time for products, services and experiences that simplify their lives — see also Laundroid, a landry folding robot.

OFF = ON — Why the offline world is adjusting to, mirroring and incorporating the online world — see also Vixole sneakers,which have flexible, remotely customizable LED coating.

And their parent megatrends:

Ubitech

UBITECH — The ever-greater pervasiveness of technology — also “parenting” BENEFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (It’s time to use AI to serve deep human needs), INTERNET OF BETTER THINGS (Why consumers will embrace connected objects that serve people, society and the planet)

Ephemeral

EPHEMERAL — The scarcity of time and its consequences — also “parenting” LIVESTREAM PRISONERS (Living in the digital moment), INSTANT ENCOUNTERS (Consumers are ready for ultra-liquid, instant connections to strangers), and TRANSPERIENCES (Why brands that offer truly immersive and engaging experiences across multiple media platforms will thrive)

Helpfull

HELPFULL — The demand for convenient and superior service / Customer service, Convenience, Marketing as a service, Time saving — also “parenting” CONTEXTUAL OMNIPRESENCE (Get ready for new channels and new customer contexts), BRAND BUTLERS (Why brands must become butlers that serve, service, and support lifestyle needs) and SYNCED SERVICES (One product, multiple — relevant, useful, or fun — services)