I have written in the past about potential of the Amazon Go experience and the fact that if executed properly it can lead to enhanced skills for retail employees in a similar style that the Barista changed getting a cup of coffee. When I first saw it in Seattle in 2017 the potential was clear.
Now Amazon Go is out of Beta, with nearly 20 stores in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Chicago all having a handful of stores. Rumours abound of course as to whether Amazon wants 20 or 2,000 stores.
Off I went to a NY store keen to buy some lunch at Amazon Go. I downloaded the app, registered, uploaded my credit card and no bingo. It would not work. I tried another credit card. After talking to a staff member, checking my numbers still no go for Amazon Go. The reason, in New York the most global of American cities, the Amazon Go app only took US-based credit cards. I could not get my lunch, and the shortcomings of the system were evident for all to see. There are of course equity issues around the use of credit card only stores, and San Francisco has made this illegal, with stores having to take cash.
New York does not appear to have this requirement, again leaving me without lunch.
Given the global nature of Amazon, and how it has disrupted and transformed industries in the US and globally it seems remarkable that an Australian credit card is not accepted at Amazon Go’s four walls, but is allowed in the legacy stores opposite Amazon Go. I have Amazon Prime, so it is also not as if I am an unfamiliar customer to Amazon, not that this should matter.
The Amazon Go store is a remarkable concept that has the chance to change the customer experience, increase the skill of employees and transform retail. However, failure to understand that not every customer has a US credit card is a shortcoming that Amazon should have considered. It also highlights how difficult end to end disruption is, and that a total digital experience needs to consider a range of issues from equity, to global payments systems.