Club Shopping, The Amazon Way

Contributed by Amy Majerowski

The other day I walked into Costco.  As part of the routine, I had to fish out my membership card and show it to the employee at the door in order to verify that I was a member to enter the store. To me, having to find and take out that card is a big inconvenience. I have become used to no longer having to dig my keys out of my purse since I drive a car that recognizes the key fob is in close proximity and I can conveniently unlock the doors, and hit a start button to turn on the car. It’s an intuitive system that makes my life easier, even on the most harried of days.  

My thoughts then drifted to the last time I went downhill skiing. At that ski resort, the gates opened when I approached the chair lift because it knew that my lift pass was in my pocket. So magical and convenient!  So, all of these thoughts left me wondering why I needed to find and show my card at Costco standing in the doorway.  Isn’t there technology that will make my life easier at this one moment?

I then recalled several articles I’ve recently read about the new Amazon Go! store, in which shoppers enter, take products off the shelves and then leave, without having to check out. By scanning the shoppers phone, the store’s smart computer system knows that you’ve entered, selected products and then left with the items you wanted. The total for the items is then automatically billed to the shopper's credit card connected to their Amazon account.  It makes shopping quicker, easier and more convenient.

 I’m hopeful that Costco will start to improve the entry checkpoint and exit system to be just as easy.  While I found my shopping experience at Costco enjoyable; I found good value products and checked out without having to wait in a long line, and picked up a couple sample snacks while walking throughout the store. However, as an innovator, I couldn’t help but think about how important it is to stay on top of trends, and always be thinking about new and better ideas and experiences. Amazon is succeeding at growing by rethinking the shopping experience. Unfortunately, many other retailers, like Macy’s, JC Penny and Sears, are struggling to keep pace and shrinking.  They need to look at Amazon’s innovative ways of making the entire in-store and online shopping experience better by finding and filling need gaps their users appreciate.  After all, getting shoppers in the stores, taking in the store brand experience in person, and not just shopping online is becoming more of an achievement these days.

Will Amazon cause the club stores and other big box stores, like Costco, to suffer the same consequences? Hopefully, these stores will implement new, exciting ways to keep people like me eagerly coming back and not daydreaming about keeping my card in my purse.