Interview: CPG Expert On The Impact Of Amazon Go Store

Interview: CPG Expert On The Impact Of Amazon Go Store

PSFK speaks to Bonin Bough, who has been pioneering consumer brands' response to new technology and changing consumer needs

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 24 january 2018

Tech giant Amazon has launched its new Amazon Go store: a prototype brick-and-mortar experience in its hometown of Seattle in Washington. The big feature of the store is the “Just Walk Out” system which means that shoppers don’t have to pay! Instead they have to scan their phones when they enter the store, and then the store monitors what the shoppers pick up and charges them when they leave the store.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this rolls out. I spoke to Bonin Bough who has been pioneering CPG response to technology and changing consumer needs. Here’s what he had to say (and feel free to listen in on this PurpleList Podcast):

Piers Fawkes: As a CPG expert with experience at Mondelez and Pepsi, can you tell me your reaction to a store like the Amazon Go?

Bonin Bough: I think you’re only going to see shoppable assistance that moves into different types of retail. For a long time, I’ve been talking about the future of retail and where it’s going, and I think at the end of the day, Amazon is one of the few players that are fearless enough to make a change.

What we should be asking ourselves is why aren’t any of the other grocery players rolling out stores of the future? For example, why are we just now announcing shelves that can change over the price? Why are we now just able to dynamically do that and those kind of shelves are just now coming to the marketplace?

At the end of the day, it takes a player like Amazon to say, “Hey guys, the consumer does not love to shop. Why do you think e-comm is growing and growing and growing?” Retailers lie to themselves , and they don’t really actually pay attention to consumer behavior.

The reason why the consumer shops is because we have forced them. That was the only way that they can get that product.

What are the benefits to the brands or the products being sold on the shelf? 

The point of purchase is already under massive attack by cell phones. Now, Amazon Go is a place which disrupts point of purchase and convenience buys.

I guess if shoppers have already got the Amazon app open to login to the store, then it’s going to force the brands to to create marketing programs through that app. The shopper is not going to have multiple apps open.

It’s definitely going to force them, but what’s the difference between that and what I’m already forced to do when I market inside of Kroger or a Walmart? I think that the old guard has been doing it this way for a long time, and I think this is just a new version of the same thing. Brands will need to pay Amazon Go for discovery, for placement and so on—but I think that brand execs will get upset because their money is now going to Amazon.

Do you think this is going to roll out to Whole foods?

The moment Amazon bought Whole Foods, my first reaction was, “Every retailer had better be scared.” That’s it. There’s a new player in town who’s willing to experiment and push the edges of what is possible.

The fact that they announced that they’re not rolling it out in Whole Foods, yes, it’s difficult to do it now, but how many times have we heard them say, “Nope,” and then all of the sudden, once they figure it out, “Oops, sorry, now we are”?

One of the things that Alibaba’s doing is actually taking their their in-store platform, and giving it to other retailers. It’s be interesting to see whether Amazon are going to create a platform which they will eventually send out to other retailers.

I wouldn’t put it past them, but I think that hopefully what this does is it also signals to the marketplace that there’s opportunity in creating the future of retail, and maybe we’re going to see other players emerge.


So let’s see what happens next. Will this be the first of many Amazon Go stores, will the technology infiltrate their Whole Foods acquisition or will we see some sort of platform play? Keep reading PSFK and let’s find out together.

Amazon Go

+artificial intelligence
+customer service

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