Will Amazon’s grab-and-go tech elevate store analytics?

Source: Amazon promotional video - “Resorts World Las Vegas, powered by Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology”
Jul 05, 2022

Amazon.com has introduced a new Store Analytics offering that taps its cashier-free checkout technologies to provide insights into the in-store performance of vendors’ products and ad campaigns.

The insights come from Just Walk Out technology and Amazon Dash Cart-enabled Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores in the U.S. Both technologies utilize artificial intelligence, computer vision and data pulled from multiple sensors to enable shoppers to skip the checkout line.

Amazon, in a blog entry, said that brands will have access to details on how their products are discovered, considered and purchased in applicable stores to inform their decisions related to selection, promotions and ad campaigns.

“Through the secure Store Analytics dashboard, brands can access aggregated and anonymized data about how their products rank and perform,” according to Amazon. ”Additionally, advertisers running in-store campaigns such as digital signage will see associated performance metrics in their ad campaign reports. These data-driven Store Analytics insights allow brands to better understand the path to purchase for their products, helping them to evolve and refine their assortment, merchandising and advertising over time.”

Amazon’s blog entry includes extensive details on how personal data will be protected. “We do not share anything that can be linked back to any individual shopper; rather only offer totals, averages, and percentages about product, promotion, and ad campaign performance — for example, the percentage of how often their product was taken off the shelf and then purchased either during that store visit or later on Amazon.com.”

Brands will not be able to target ads based on Store Analytics data “at this time.”

Consumers will see information via in-store signage and online on how to opt out of sharing their data.

Amazon said shoppers will benefit as the technology is used to improve store layouts, elevate selections and deliver more relevant promotions and advertising.

Amazon has expanded its Just Walk Out tech, first launched at Amazon Go in 2017, to larger Amazon Fresh locations and some Whole Foods locations. Amazon is also licensing the technology, and it has been put to use at some Starbucks and Sainsbury’s locations as well as baseball stadiums and airport concessions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the value of store analytics tied to Just Walk Out technology for brands as well as for Amazon or stores licensing the technology? Do you see privacy concerns or other hurdles undermining the potential benefit?

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"This technology will help reduce overbuying and excess as well as fire sales across the country."

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18 Comments on "Will Amazon’s grab-and-go tech elevate store analytics?"

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Lucille DeHart

I have always believed that data is only as valuable as you apply it and execute against it. Providing brands with direct consumer data at the point of sale is extremely beneficial. Prior to that brands had to rely on actual purchase behaviors and market share reports which don’t provide insights into pre-purchase intent. Providing a seamless interface between the data and the advertising platforms will benefit both the brands and the retailers.

Melissa Minkow

I see immense value for all when it comes to JWO technology. Consumers will ultimately begin receiving a more resonant retail experience, brands will have access to insights that are actually actionable, and the data isn’t collected in an invasive way, but a way that creates convenience for shoppers. I expect many more retailers to operate this way, especially in the face of inflation, this is one way to at least elevate the experience so it feels more premium.

Bob Phibbs

This isn’t about privacy. Anyone willing to use Amazon’s technology will be, in effect, teaching Amazon how to compete with them – whether they share data with the retailer or not.

Laura Davis-Taylor

I was thinking the same thing, Bob. Considering their track record doing similar “use my platform’ pitches and then using the data to compete against those that bought in, who would trust them?

Liza Amlani

The value of store analytics is enormous – the data can not only drive store planning but also help curate localized product assortments.

With the inventory challenges reported by retailers in the last few weeks, they need all the help they can get. This technology will help reduce overbuying and excess as well as fire sales across the country.

Ananda Chakravarty

Many tech vendors, system integrators, and retailers have developed the in-store tech needed to capture customer engagement in the store – this is certainly not Amazon-driven. With a variety of store types, formats, demographics, skilled store personnel, and marketing impact from campaigns, stores face almost unique conditions that limit capturing relevant data across a chain of stores. Privacy issues notwithstanding, many of these other issues make it challenging to use these analytics in real time.

However the data offers a powerful use case for planning and merchandising. Does it make sense to fit every store or just a representative sample as most retailers have already done?

Dave Bruno

Beware- as always with Amazon – the fox in the henhouse! Sure, sharing their analytics is awesome and sure, that rich data will help brands refine the assortments that perform best in Amazon’s stores — for now. Never forget that Amazon already has all that data and is likely using it to refine their own private label products in order to (eventually) replace the best performers from their brand partners.

Ken Morris

I think store analytics are overdue for an upgrade, so retailers should consider them the new frontier in retail. Movement isn’t everything, but movement plus context is. Understanding why someone picks up a product and then selects a competitor’s offering is invaluable to a retailer, and even more so to the vendor. Identifying “shadow movement” (product selected as an alternative) is key to analyzing a sale. 

But the tech used in the Amazon Go stores is probably just the beginning. Those are small-footprint “stages” akin to The Truman Show, where everything is observable and thought to be controllable. Even the test store in the Seattle Mariner’s T-Mobile Park sounds like a mini-Amazon Go store, optimized for baseball fans, and probably run more like a lab than a store. I’m most interested in how Starbucks and Sainsbury’s are licensing and utilizing Amazon’s technology. After all, the tech needs to be scalable to catch on among retailers of various sizes.

David Spear

The value derived from JWO analytics can and should be enormous for consumer, brand and retailer. Historically, retailers have struggled to pull in additional sources of intel such as sensor, camera, video, and analytically combined it with traditional sources such as product, inventory, promo, price, etc. Amazon’s new JWO offers a means to do this, but I agree with Dave Bruno — beware of the long tail play by Amazon.

Ron Margulis

Everything Amazon does, and I do mean EVERYTHING, has the goal of understanding what will make shoppers buy more stuff. Analytics is at the heart of this effort. Having the ability to quickly know what pricing, promotion, merchandising, etc. works in-store and what doesn’t is the competitive advantage of the future and Amazon knows this. This analytics is way beyond A-B testing. It’s more like A-B-C-D-E-F testing.

David Naumann

With the new store analytics dashboard from Amazon, manufacturers supplement store data with rich insights about customer exposure to digital adds, dwell time, and the results of items picked off the shelf (purchased or put back). These insights will help drive smarter product placement, digital advertising and product assortment decisions. Since the data is aggregated and not specific to any individual customer, it should alleviate privacy concerns.

Jeff Sward

It sounds like the key may be, “…brands will have access to details on how their products are discovered, considered and purchased…” Does this mean the “why?” of the purchase is answered? Why was brand “A” selected versus brand “B”? Item #1 versus item #2? The “what” and the “how” of a purchase are pretty straightforward. But drilling to the “why?” of a purchase might be the Holy Grail.

Oliver Guy

This is an awesome idea to lift the capabilities from Just Walk Out and apply them in a “light” version for different purposes. Privacy is always a fascinating concern for me in retail stores because cameras have existed there for security reasons for decades – albeit with a human watching the screen. What will be interesting is who keeps and uses the traffic data – Amazon or the retailer – and who has the rights to sell it to consumer goods companies.

Shep Hyken

Any store with scanning capabilities has an opportunity to capture data. Understanding when to order, when an item is showing a loss of interest, when items appear to be growing in popularity, and more, are all found in the data that is mined from the checkout interaction. There are overall purchasing trends tied to the merchandise, and here are trends tied to the consumer. Both are important, especially the consumer data. Used the right way, the retailer (Amazon or anyone other retailer) can create a personalized experience that potentially brings the customer back for more.

Joel Rubinson

I’m a bit confused. Don’t retailers share brand and SKU sales data already via POS? So this is a tech power version of incomplete data that was once complete? I see the value of JWO to the consumer, but marketers? It adds something — maybe — if this is IN ADDITION to POS but, as a replacement, it would be a step backward. I wonder what percent use Scan It in Stop & Shop. As a shopper I always found it to be more trouble than it was worth.

Ricardo Belmar

On the surface, this sounds like an upgrade to typical in-store analytics that help brands understand why consumers buy their brand versus any other alternative. Given this is based on JWO technology, brands can look at this as using Amazon’s stores as their testbed or research site for consumer insights prior to the point-of-sale transaction. That’s very valuable data for brands to have alongside POS sales data. Brands can use this to experiment with advertising campaigns, and other merchandising scenarios, assuming Amazon works with brands to create these test beds in their stores. Brands could then take those learnings and apply them to their other retail partners.

Now, if JWO technology is adopted by other retailers to extend the range and breadth of test beds for brands then this starts to look like a much more useful service. Of course, JWO isn’t the only option out there for retailers, and you can expect competitive technologies to offer the same capabilities to brands. The competition for data insights just gets more and more intense and interesting!

Peter Charness

Still wondering a bit on the “what to do with the insights” to turn them into action. If I measure, for example, dwell time of customers standing in front of 4 kinds of ketchup, what does it tell me about the viability of any one of them? If they pick up one and put it back on the shelf — what do I do with that insight? I can see things like measuring the success of promotional set ups — did it stop people, did they look at it? But then a JWO store I believe is everyday low pricing.

I’m always a fan of better analytics, and more complete data, but I’m a bigger fan of turning insights into action.

Trevor Sumner

I am so excited about this! I’ve long been the evangelist for understanding what shoppers do at the shelf. We should think of product pickups like “clicks” on your shelf “website.” Where do people click? How long do they dwell? What content changes where they click? How do products convert from click to purchase? Can I get someone to click a cross-sell item? Imagine managing your eCommerce site based on Unique Users (store traffic) and sales data with no click analytics from your site. That’s what we are doing in store. We’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this at Perch and this article caught my eye about one of the unrealized gains of computer vision and cashierless checkout. So excited to see others adopting this data opportunity mindset! It’s massive.

"This technology will help reduce overbuying and excess as well as fire sales across the country."

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