Amazon Go is the latest attempt by this giant firm to revise the future of retail. The idea behind Amazon Go is that customers can walk into the store, scan the QR codes of the items they want, and leave without any checkout procedure. Their purchases are automatically posted to their Amazon account.   The first “beta” version of this small convenience store, being billed as “Just Walk Out Shopping,”  is opening this month in Seattle. 

What will shoppers find in an Amazon Go store?  This retail equivalent of the driverless car will feature “delicious ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options, grocery essentials ranges from staples like bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates, and chef-designed Amazon Meal Kits, with all the ingredients you need to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.”

The National Retail Federation is concerned that these stores will eliminate jobs — whereas others applaud Amazon for taking away the checkout process, which can be considered a source of frustration and friction. It is too early to tell whether the stores will be successful at providing convenience for the shopper without resulting in either charges for merchandise not purchased, or shoplifting by cyber thieves who have figured out a way to fool the system.

But all of the change happening, or possibly happening, on the retail scene can make our employees concerned that their jobs may disappear.  And indeed many stores, especially large one, are closing — resulting in the lost of hundreds of jobs. But hopefully your shop is not in danger of shutting its doors, at least in the foreseeable future.

I just listened to the TED Talk by Simon Sinek, and one point especially hit home — the fact that leadership means making people in your organization feel safe. There will always be forces from the outside trying to thwart your business (and Amazon is a “prime” example, pardon the pun).  But if you can assure your employees that you are not closing, and that their jobs are safe, they will be able to commit more energy and enthusiasm to their work.  According to Therese Poletti for MarketWatch,  you shouldn’t expect to buy a driverless car anytime soon.  And I am willing to bet that Amazon Go and its employee-free shopping experience will also not be hitting Main Street in the foreseeable future.  So we need to assure our staff that we plan to be around for years to come, and encourage them to provide customer service that makes shoppers grateful that there are humans on hand instead of just technology.

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder