I agree. Remember when Target, Office Depot, Circuit City, and TRU outsourced e-commerce to Amazon? A similar dynamic is at play here. Companies build competitive advantage by doing the difficult things. Everyone does the easy things.
I suspect there are physical infrastructural constraints affecting grocers' abilities to offer (and promote) these services. To do curbside pickup at scale, a store needs suitable, available curbs. An available curb means a curb that doesn't impede in-store visitors. To do lockers, it needs lockers and suitable space to locate them. A grocer also needs the user tools to facilitate in-store picking and the labor to do it. To the extent any of these are real constraints, grocers are correct to carefully match demand generation to their ability to delivery a great service.
Amazon Prime is not free. There are somewhere around 100 million Prime members in the country that are willing to pay for it. Amazon's North American segment (which excludes AWS) generated $27 billion in operating income over the TTM. By comparison, Kroger generated $3 billion. Amazon is succeeding by selling convenience. Grocers that want to compete well against Amazon need to understand that.
Amazon has always prioritized convenience; not price and not "free." Convenience in the future will almost certainly require a mixture of local physical stores and excellent online purchasing and delivery capabilities. Grocers of the future, whatever their name, will need both and they will need them to work together seamlessly.
It looks like it may be a good feature for the "two bag" trip. The cart looks too small for larger stock up trips which will be limiting. As such, I expect quick follow-on versions. Additionally, I'd encourage us (and brands) to consider this not just as a mobile self-checkout tool, but as a personal shopping assistant. With this Amazon could enable pharmacy ordering, fresh deli ordering, butcher/bakery ordering while the customer picks up produce and consumables. Also, it can help with queries like "where are the dried porcinis?" I think this is a bit a Trojan horse in the sense that it can lead to more types of digital engagement with the customer in-store.
The video shows that bags are in the cart and that items are scanned when adding to the cart and and placing in the bag. Then the user walks out of the store. It looks like a mobile version of a self-checkout station. I see no usage (or at least required usage) of RFID or of putting it in some scanning tunnel.
I think this is the wrong question. The biggest and nearest opportunity for Walmart is not Amazon Prime customers, but everyone else. Traditional grocers should be much more concerned about this than Amazon.
Specific predictions are risky. But some characteristics of the new normal are coming into focus with increasing clarity:
The timeline until a more complete return to normal is probably 6-18 months; call it 12 months to work through this. This is driven by the long-term resolution (i.e., vaccine, cure, etc.);
Social distancing in some sense, perhaps intermittently and locally, will probably be part of how we behave;
Adoption of Ecommerce, both delivery and pickup, has accelerated and probably will continue to accelerate as (at least some) people remain mindful of reducing interactions with other humans;
Health, safety, and cleanliness as buying considerations will marginally replace prior buying trends (e.g., all-natural, organic, fair trade);
The above will likely impact consumers’ selection of stores to shop in as well as the products they buy. Therefore, we can expect retailers to adapt the in-store CX to be more attuned to cleanliness, safety, and efficiency (quicker in and out). There will be various tests and experiments to see what appeals most to consumers;
Retail operations inside stores and inside DCs will need to become safer. This means screening employees at entry, “de-densification” of the work environment, more cleaning between shifts, etc. The net impact is reduced productivity. This needs to be planned for;
Intermittent shutdowns or lockdowns are probably likely, though they probably will be smaller and more localized than the global lockdown we just went through.
I would only add that, based on the article above, Starbucks should institute national compliance requirements to guide local managers. This can't be left entirely to local management. I doubt it is. But it is not clear what the fourth criteria really means, "store operational readiness." That probably means that a store can comply with corporate safety guidelines.
Reopening should be based on and in compliance with health care experts and data, but it requires the coordination of several functional disciplines to reopen a store. We should not expect a public health official to declare when a store can reopen. We should expect public health officials to determine the criteria necessary for safe operation of a store and the community health conditions necessary to relax shelter in home orders.
But retailers and brands should hold their operations department responsible to develop or modify practices in their stores to comply with public health requirements. HR needs to provide guidance to employees on working practices. Local managers need to know what procedures to enforce. PR needs to know what data can and should be shared.
All of the above apply to determining when to close a store again and then subsequently reopen it.
Great points. No doubt ecommerce has accelerated and will be a greater share going forward. DTC has also accelerated. But the longevity of DTC's recent acceleration is the question. DTC brands need to solve the fulfillment and logistics aspects of being a DTC brand. It needs to be profitably sustainable in the long run. Getting clicks isn't the hard part, especially right now. Delivering at a sustainable cost is the real challenge. But it's also the real opportunity -- build sustainable competitive advantage based on your product and your supply chain, not how good you are at Facebook ads.
Perhaps. But Amazon has adjusted delivery promises based on capacity. It has caught grief for this in some quarters, but it has also met or beaten these promises (based on a sample of checks across my network). Their customers appreciate this. Prioritizing Prime members and wait listing new customers, due to capacity, also strikes me as a practical tactic that customers will understand, especially with the fact that almost all other retailers are struggling as well.
Also, COVID-19 is, I think, an 8-16 month event. Consumers will be concerned about safety and social distancing for the duration of this time. It will ebb and flow based on local circumstance, but the likely desire to enjoy shopping will be balanced by continued avoidance of undue infection risk.
I will take a little more of a provocative point of view. The issue isn't transparency, per se, but what to be transparent about. In other words, transparency is a necessary and productive concept. But what are we recommending retailers share, and when? That is the real question.
Should every store have a list posted on their entry doors of which employees have been tested, when each was last tested, and as well who tested positive and what their current situation is? I think we can quickly get to a situation where transparency becomes overwhelming and nonproductive (as well as insensitive). Also, who controls what is transparently revealed to the public? Inconsistent transparency policies across a retailer network can lead to reduced trust, not more.
Rather, retailers should be very clear and public about what their policies are and they should audit regularly (daily and weekly) against these policies. They should welcome employee and customer feedback if they see violations. How often are they testing employees? Are facial masks required in the store and/or in the warehouse? Under what conditions will a store be closed? How does a temporary store closure effect pickup operations outside the store? What conditions need to be established to re-open a store?
These are the things retailers need to be transparent about. Maybe a firm’s policy involves reporting publicly the number of infected employees at a store, but maybe it doesn’t because other key parts of their policy are reported. The key is for retailers to clearly define and communicate — to their customers and to their employees — their policies, including their disclosure policies, and to diligently follow them through.