Amazon’s recent unveiling of its cashier free stores has generated a lot of buzz. Their just walk out technology, as they’ve branded it, allows customers to walk into an Amazon Go store by tapping their app, grabbing their items and simply walking out. The convenience that this provides is definitely incredible, but does that have to come at the price of removing human interaction?

As more and more industries automate, the small exchanges and connections we form, even if just for seconds, with other people seems to be getting cut. We’re so accustomed to seeing cashiers and sales associates everywhere that we don’t notice the important role that they play in our day to day lives and how they add to our daily experiences. If every type of physical store followed the Amazon Go model, we would be completely changing our everyday experiences, and not necessarily for the better.

 

Ramona Pringle, a technology columnist with CBC:

“You know what would be truly innovative? If a tech company started caring about how their products shape the lives of those who use them.

The tech industry has always promised us better quality of life. But somewhere along the line they got off course, confusing the idea of making our lives more convenient with making our lives better.

New features and functionality used to be enough to sell gadgets and get people talking. But the world we find ourselves in now, counting down to 2017, isn’t the same world of a decade ago, where we once waited with bated breath to see what Apple had in store at their launch events. Gadgets were aspirational, and there was an excited hopefulness around the potential of social media to bring the world together — maybe even to make us better, smarter, kinder versions of ourselves.

But at this point, we don’t really need thinner phones, or more megapixels, or new bots to take our coffee orders. What we need from the tech industry now is accountability: to care about how their products affect the lives and livelihoods of the people who use them, for better and for worse. That would be innovative.”

 

The Drum’s Lisa Lacy:

“Seamless is more than checkout-less.

But checkout and payment are hardly the only potential subpar moments in the consumer shopping experience. And that, in turn, is likely why some brands – like Brita, Brotherand Whirlpool – are part of the Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, which allows connected devices to tap into Amazon’s retail platform to build automatic reordering experiences for frequently ordered products like water filters, ink and detergent.

Here, seamless shopping is more about helping consumers avoid the pain of realizing they have suddenly run out of something.

But a seemingly infinite variety of pain points remain.

And that is perhaps why Laura Moser, shopper marketing practice leader at Momentum, defined frictionless shopping as “a dedicated and ongoing effort to anticipate the needs and desires of customers and solving problems before they experience [them, which allows them to] go down the desired path so they don’t have to think about how to get there or what comes next.”

In other words, frictionless shopping is really the movement of physical retail stores to understand they have to think differently about how they connect and sell to people and, in turn, seeks to make an entire brand more seamless and effective, Moser said.

Think of digital keys from hotel brands like Hilton and Starwood, which allow consumers to access their rooms with their mobile devices.

Or even Macy’s, which revamped the changing rooms in the swimsuit department of one location to include apps and swimwear delivery chutes to help make the dreaded experience of shopping for beachwear less awful and to encourage women to actually come to the store to try on bathing suits, which is something they cannot do online, Moser said.

And there are other as-of-yet unaddressed pain points in shopping for clothes, like, say, having to repeat your size even if you have purchased from a particular retailer previously, Goldberg noted.

“You need to remove friction from all versions of the experience,” he added.

And so before retailers leap to follow Amazon Go’s lead – the proverbial shiny object – they may be better off addressing their own existing UX issues and/or looking for alternate ways to improve the customer experience as it stands today as a means of coloring their own seamless shopping rainbows.”