Tag Archives: innovation

Just Walk Out. Amazon’s Cashier-less Grocery Stores

Two years ago Amazon launched its ‘Amazon Go’ convenience stores. It now has 25 stores across the country in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York. These stores carry a limited selection of items focused on ready-to-eat meals and snacks. The stores use a ‘just walk out’ technology that allows consumers to pick up an item, place it in their bag, and then just walk out. No scanning or cashiers needed. All a shopper needs is an Amazon account and the Amazon Go app on their mobile device.

Now, Amazon has now expanded the concept into a much larger format called ‘Amazon Go Grocery’ in Seattle. With 10,400 square feet of space, the new Amazon Go Grocery store carries a larger amount of products, including fresh produce, meat, seafood, baker items, and household essential. The store also carries pre-made meals plus beer, wine, and spirits. The ‘just walk out’ technology is the same as Amazon Go, and uses the same app on mobile devices.

ne allows the entire family to shop together. Any item taken will be added to the account of the shopper who entered them. However, Amazon warns shoppers that if they grab an item from a top shelf to help another customer, they will be charged for it.

The stores have employees on-site to greet shoppers, restock shelve, answer questions, and help customers. However, cashier-less stores are coming under scrutiny from advocates and lawmakers who say these stores discriminate against people who do not have credit cards or bank accounts. (Amazon did change its policies to allow customers to pay with cash at its convenience stores and says the same will be true at the grocery store.)

Let’s go get groceries!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How much time do they estimate they spend in check-out lines on a store visit?
  2. How does this new concept fit with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods?
  3. Information on the stores can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=16008589011
  4. Show video of the new store: https://youtu.be/lTzPpAbjasA
  5. What are the students’ opinions?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team list advantages and disadvantages of the new format.
  7. Does this technology have uses in other places?
  8. Does the technology give a competitive advantage to Amazon in the grocery industry?

Source: Associated Press; other news sources

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Fresh Food Vending Machines

Consider the humble vending machines. They are virtually everywhere, and we do mean everywhere! We see them in stores, hallways, offices, subway stations, laundry mats, gas stations, and more. Not only are the vending machines convenient, but they are easy to use, can take cash or cards, and consumers do not have to interact with a cashier or sales person. Easy. Fast. Convenient. And, usually not very good eating.

Yes, the common vending machines as just that – common. They have been around so long that they no longer excite consumers. There is nothing particularly interesting, and virtually little food that is healthy for us. When was the last time you looked forward to eating a meal or snack dispensed by a vending machine?

That may be about to change with the advent of new machines that dispense fresh, healthy food in high density locations. Instead of soda, candy bars, and chips, today’s machines carry salads, yogurt parfaits, pudding, specialty coffee drinks, and much more satisfying fare. Not only are the foods better, the service is faster than stopping at a fast-food joint and waiting in long lines. And, as an added bonus, some of the machines will even recycle the packaging to reduce waste.

Here are few of the new alternatives:

  • Farmer’s Fridge – 400+ machines in office buildings and food courts in six states
  • Fresh Bowl – Seven locations in New York
  • Chowbotics – 100 salad robots that build orders from touchscreens
  • Le Bread Xpress – Five bake machines that cook croissants, pizza, and quiche
  • Briggo – High-end coffee cars that make 100 custom drinks per hour

Hungry and in a rush? Let’s meet at the vending machine.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Where are vending machines? What do they buy form vending machines? Why do they buy from vending machines?
  2. Divide students into groups. Have each group take an existing vending machine and work out an update for today’s consumers.
  3. Alternative: Show Web sites of new vending machines dispensing fresh food and have a team of students analyze each vending machine and company.
  4. For each company, determine the target market, where it should be located, and the messaging.

Source: Black, J. (13 February 2020). The machine that lets you skip the salad bar. Wall Street Journal.

 

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Why Buy Clothes? Rent Them Instead!

Do you have a tough time keeping up the latest fashions? Or, an even tougher time paying for the new designer clothes you covet? Despair no more. Instead of buying, try renting your clothes!

Renting clothes is a new way to spruce up wardrobes without breaking the bank. While there are a number of subscription-based services such as Rent the Runway, traditional retailers are also entering the new market, including options to rent clothes from Bloomingdales’, Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, and more. Consumers are not limited to just renting clothing – some retailers rent shoes, jewelry, and handbags, too. And, lest you think this is just for women, a number of companies rent clothing and accessories to men as well.

The clothing rental industry, while still relatively new, is also quite large and still growing. According to research firm GlobalData, the clothing rental industry is roughly $1 billion today, and is projected to grow to $2.5 billion by 2023. Not too shabby (chic).

The sharing economy industry is still establishing itself for consumers who are not interested in owning, but still want access to new brands and services. After all, consumers already rent apartments, homes, cars, bikes, and furniture. Now we can add clothing to the list.

What will you wear?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the sharing economy. What is it; what drives it; what should we watch?
  2. Show a video overview of clothing rental: https://youtu.be/7OKLqBZoOYY

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