How Retailers in the US are Responding to Amazon

That’s because Amazon is the one who is forcing other retailers to respond to its new ideas and innovations in retail, continually disrupting and breaking the barrier.

I found people taking turns acting out their happy, sad and inbetween faces at Google’s Emotobooth, so that its artificial intelligence software can define their feelings.

Google Emotobooth at NRF Retail's Big Show 2017
Google’s Emotobooth measuring faces and feelings at NRF Retail’s Big Show 2017

I put on a VR headset at Vive’s exhibit, and walked around a digital supermarket shooting breakfast cereals with hand controllers. It was fun. I was then virtually transported to a home (meant to be mine), where I opened the fridge and shot at a near empty milk-bottle, which added it to my online order.

Virtual Reality Solutions from Intel and Vive at NRF Retail's Big Show
Virtual Reality Solutions from Intel and Vive at NRF Retail’s Big Show 2017

I also bought beer and toothpaste via Samung’s internet fridge at Mastercard’s Cashless booth and a booked and paid for a flight via Facebook Chat. And how could I forget Pepper, the retail store assistant of the future, who helped me find the perfect sneaker.

amazon nrf retails big show 2017 mastercard samsung fridge
Buying groceries via the Samsung internet Fridge at NRF REtail’s Big Show 2017

These are some of the gizmos on display at the NRF Retail’s Big Show, all clearly in response to Amazon. The online giant has seen steady growth over the last year as consumers increasingly opt for online purchases over leaving the confines of their home to buy laundry detergent and television sets.

The company has dipped its toe in the physical space as well, with book stores and college drop off locations around the US. Last month however, saw traditional retailers shaking in their boots a little, with the launch of Amazon’s cashless grocery store Amazon Go, that takes out the checkout process. Just walk in, pick up what you need, and walk out.

I think traditional retailers are very scared. Red flags first went up when Amazon forced retailers to rethink their websites, and now they’ll have to rethink their stores too.

Wal-Mart recently announced the axing of 1,000 jobs at its US headquarters, while it touted the addition of new e-commerce related retail jobs from expanding its online services. US based department stores Macy’s and Lowes also announced thousands of layoffs this month, as traditional retailers report declining in-store sales.

Amazon, however has seen double-digit revenue growth, and has just unveiled plans to increase its workforce by 100,000 in the US. It was only last week in Australia that Amazon job ads surfaced on the internet, with more than 100 roles advertised in IT, sales, marketing and HR.

I caught up an executive from Amazon for dinner last week in Soho, Manhattan. When I asked them if Amazon attended NRF’s conference the response was “It’s beneath us. We are the innovators. Why would we go?” I guess that pretty much sums up a few things doesn’t it. I also asked them about Amazon coming to Australia. The response went like this “Aren’t we already there?” Well don’t we know it.


2 thoughts on “How Retailers in the US are Responding to Amazon

    • Patrick Terrell
    • 1st February

    The new push by Amazon is voice commerce powered by Alexa/Echo products. This is more of the focus now and results from December sales on this product line dominated the top sky sales for Amazon. Be on the look out for this above anything else in the near term.

    1. Thanks for your comments Patrick. It’s fantastic when you look at all the ways we can now purchase online – voice recognition, face recognition, cashless stores, buying via VR. What’ll they think of next?


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