It wasn’t long ago Amazon Go opened their first fleet of cashless, automated stores boasting the absence of lines and checkouts… forever. I happened to be in San Francisco looking for food and walking by, Amazon Go caught my attention to pop in. Here are my raw unfiltered thoughts.
This is where the two sees the most differences. Both sell similar packaged drinks and snacks, but the main differences lie in their ready to eat meals. You can say Amazon Go is a little more niche placing an emphasis on gourmet, healthy, international-friendly foods from local kitchens. They also carry meal kits for those wanting to skip the grocery stores. On the other hand, 7-Elevens are packed with iconic, American foods such as hot dogs, pizza, wings, and Slurpees. It’s pretty clear what demographics these stores are targeting. This one is more of a personal choice so objectively, it’s a wash. Tied.
I’m not overly price sensitive especially when I need to purchase something out of urgency or convenience so I will have to say the price differences did not jump at me immediately. Obviously these are convenient store prices, hence paying a little extra compared to a Walmart. The prices also reflect the products itself. For instance, a sandwich made of mass produced ham and cheddar cheese will obviously be cheaper than one with lamb kebabs and feta. As mentioned earlier, some of the products are different. I ‘m going to consider this one a wash, but if you have contrary beliefs, please comment and let me know.
Customer Service, or lack of?
When you walk in, immediately, there is a greeter to assist you with any questions. There was another person sitting down in the dining area dressed in all black. Til’ this day I’m not sure what his position was but I’ll guess a hybrid of security and manager: too helpful and friendly to be security, yet too casual to be a manager. It’s not yet known whether Amazon plans on going staffless but based on the current number of personnel, it’s going to be a wash here between the 7-Eleven and Amazon Go customer service. It’s not like people go into these convenient stores expecting white glove service which leads to the next point.
Everything sounds cool right? Well, not exactly. You have to download their Amazon Go app to enter. I’ll admit it was a tedious process having to search the app, download, and then remember my Amazon password. In theory, if you already downloaded the application then speed goes to Amazon Go. I don’t even think it’s arguable. You literally can walk in, grab, and go. There is no false advertising here. Speediness goes to Amazon Go.
Not really much to discuss here. Both places are well maintained and spotless clean. I will say that presentation-wise, Amazon Go does a great job stocking and merchandising their inventory. Because of the ceiling high shelves, it gives this impression of a fully stocked store as opposed to the Gondola Shelving used in the 7-Eleven stores. Kudos to the Amazon Go design team. I digress, in terms of cleanliness it’s a tie here.
What? No Amazon Lockers and what about Red Box? Most 7-Elevens are also open 24 hours a day. 7-Eleven gets this one purely for more amenities. Amazon Go has a dining area though. Again, different markets, different needs. Amenities goes to 7-Eleven.
Note: One can argue whether a cashless feature is an amenity or not. Look up: Philadelphia, the first city to ban cashless businesses. I recognize the pros and cons but the fact is that it limits people. By going cashless, it’s Amazon’s way of saying they prefer a certain customer base, their base.
So will it Replace 7-Elevens?
Sneaky, sneaky. Amazon, always picking fights. First battling it out against department stores, then again on the US Postal Service, groceries, and now convenient stores. You see where this is going right? World Domination.
Amazon isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. They plan to open thousands more by 2021. It’s yet to be determined if Amazon Go has a place in our society but I will say it’s worth checking out. Amazon has always evolved with the changing times and I expect the stores to do the same.
Ultimately, the way Amazon Go currently stands today, I don’t think it can replace 7-Eleven but rather, co-exist together. After some quick analysis, it’s pretty clear these two are targeting different markets. Amazon Go for your corporate on the go commuter and 7-Eleven for the general mass.