The Game of E-com Giants: Amazon vs Walmart vs Alibaba
Have you seen “Black Mirror” series? Extravagant, mind-goggling, and really huge futuristic ideas converging with sci-fi and ultra-high-tech are coming. They are the drones knocking in your window with a bunch of fresh parsley bought from Amazon Prime. They are the smart assistants (e.g. Alexa, Tmall) pitching you a genetically modified never-squirmed apple. They are the advice of the AI-powered chatbots you hardly discern from the human’s.
They are future. And this future is at our fingertips.
“Innovation is part of the Amazon DNA and over the past 15 years we have been constantly adding and refining technology that enhances and improves the experience of all our customers,” said Xavier Garambois, Vice President of EU Retail at Amazon.
It is a store that is full-monitored by cameras with the built-in AI and sophisticated image recognition software. CNN unfolds the reason for the threesome to appear in Seattle and one more in Chicago.
Amazon started working on retail stores five years ago, with an eye toward eliminating consumer pain points. “One of the things that kept coming back was people don’t like waiting in lines,” said Dilip Kumar, Amazon vice president of Amazon Go.
So now you have an empty store with just ghostly pictures of earlier contributing cashiers, cash registers, or self-service checkout stands. Your experience of the customer begins with installing the app, logging in your Amazon account and scanning the personal barcode as you pass the turnstile at the door of the store. Then you grab what you want and go out with the thing being automatically billed for it at the turnstile. Later comes to your app the receipt about your purchase and the amount of time spent at the store. 10$, 50 minutes and no queues. You will be also expected to get advised by AI on what product to take if you hesitate to make a choice.
Easy scheme — intricate methods.
But, as usual, problems are around the corner of where the innovation posits.
In case with Amazon Go, the data privacy should be an issue as Amazon expects to turn to the biometrics at the entrance to recognize people. 200 bits of the biometric data, personal preferences, and behavioral patterns will be gathered in the Amazon cloud for improved algorithms and better customer convenience the stores provide.
Another thing to put is that ease of checkout-free shopping and personalized tips drive competition among the stores. As a result, partnerships of Walmart-Microsoft kind will get more frequent, besides Silicon Valley start-ups like Zippin are in the process of developing technology that can guide customers to any item in stock.
Additional features at the store might include the augmented reality contact lenses visualizing the pros and cons of product options or automated prices for the products depending on how much you can afford today.
Amazon made its move at the chessboard.
What’s Walmart back throw in the Game of Ecom Giants?
Scan and Go
It is an initiative similar to Amazon’s. The Scan & Go app allows customers to scan and bag items, including produce, as they shop and pay directly via their mobile phones, without having to wait in line at the register. The app securely stores credit or debit card information, and once customers are done shopping and have paid, they just walk through the Mobile Express lane on their way out.
However, as for May 2018, the company has put a plug on the app, except for the Sam Club’s stores, advising that it wasn’t popular and ineffective for the large baskets. This happens on the wave of the Amazon Go’s expansion, sadly for Walmart.
But Walmart was out as to struggle. It launched the on-the-spot customer checkout service — Check Out With Me. The benefit from it primarily is about “making hay when the sun shines”: checking out customers from the floor. The devices Walmart engineers are in the utmost need for customers of “Lawn & Garden Centers” due to the size and weight of the purchase.
TechCrunch reports that the new service, which Walmart is calling “Check Out With Me,” involves store employees wearing a small carrying case equipped with a Bluetooth receipt printer. Their cellular device works as the barcode scanner and the credit card swiper for the transactions.
No more have you to choose between the parking lot and the store. All is done before you blink.
Nice option — high competitiveness.
Amazon and Walmart indeed go in the lockstep with each other.
Amazon Prime = Jetblack
Advanced Robotics = Bossa Nova Robotics
But it’s not only about the Goliath VS David story. Both of them have the Asian counterpart which is propelling the giddy techy brainy stuff. Does Alibaba make the knight’s move in this Game?
Starting with the scale, it should be mentioned that around 42% of global e-commerce transactions took place in China last year, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
The context of the governmental interest, support, investment and commitment of the Chinese government paves the easy way for the tech giants to gather and test data of the vast Chinese population for AI innovation. On this fertile ground, Alibaba constitutes the greatest change.
Not far off the future when fashion trends will be dictated by the AI-driven companies like Alibaba Group. Pull&Bear, Mango, Zara will be likely to pay for the fashion product placements in the app stores. I’m interested in your thoughts on the issue. Is this state of affairs not far off the table?
According to Alizilia, Alibaba introduced its first “FashionAI” concept store, which makes extensive use of artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify the apparel shopping experience for customers. Customer experience in the store is modified by the smart mirrors in the changing rooms to guide clients with suggestions of size, color, accessories as well as automatically display information for the items customers are interacting with and request some more items to try on directly from the changing room.
What’s more, the “Virtual Wardrobe” is expected to be integrated into the Mobile Taobao app. It would the way shopping for clothes is done way drastically than fashion gurus could possibly imagine.
Winners or Losers
Everyone and no one at once. There will be no winners in this game. Actually, the outcome of the game they play should either foster or not customers’ welfare, our welfare. So it is not about the competition and “jungle laws”, but rather about what are the gains for us at the exit. It’s us playing against them. In a latent way.
P.S. If you’re interested in more of the e-commerce (how to launch your e-commerce business/what are the basics of the e-commerce) visit my site.
P.P.S. Clap for the story, if you liked it or found informative :)