Starbucks joins hands with Amazon to create the first “unmanned” cafe

On 59th Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue in New York City, Starbucks and Amazon "partnered" to open the first "unmanned" cafe , which opened on November 18.

It is special in that it integrates Amazon unmanned cashier, Starbucks coffee express service and traditional third space.

Getting coffee here is just the beginning.

Can be fast or slow down

We might as well have a complete "cloud tour" first:

On the road, you can open the Starbucks app to select this store in advance and place an order. When you enter the store, you will see the barista busy at the counter, and the digital screen hanging above the counter records your order.

▲ Picture from: Starbucks

If you only want to drink coffee, you can actually leave; if you want to buy some other items, Amazon Go market and Starbucks lounge are only a few steps away, but you need to use the Amazon shopping app, Amazon One or insert a credit card to pass through the gate—— It feels like entering a subway station.

▲ Picture from: Starbucks

Amazon One refers to a new type of biometric technology launched by Amazon in September 2020, which connects the palm of the hand to a credit card, and customers can enter the store and pay for the goods by waving their hands on the scanning device.

After passing through the gate, the Amazon Go market offers a selection of foods from Starbucks and Amazon Go, including fresh salads, sandwiches, baked goods and snacks served from morning to night.

▲ Picture from: Starbucks

Anything you remove from the shelf will be automatically added to the virtual shopping cart; if you choose to put it back, they will disappear from your virtual shopping cart.

This is achieved by Amazon's "Just Walk Out" technology-cameras and shelf sensors will count "who" took "what" and charge them when they leave the store. The underlying principles include computer vision and sensor fusion. And deep learning.

▲ Just Walk Out. Picture from: Amazon

When you choose the goods you need, you can sit in the lounge area to enjoy food or drinks. There are large dining seats and individual seats for meetings to choose from, and they are all equipped with USB ports and power sockets.

If you are "not enough", it is better to order another drink through the Starbucks app, or return to the Amazon Go market to buy more at any time.

▲ Picture from: Starbucks

When all the experience is over, just leave naturally-after you go out, your credit card will be automatically charged, and a receipt will be received within a few hours.

After a complete experience, you can find that this store combines the strengths of Amazon and Starbucks. It combines digital and physical retail experiences. It can satisfy busy consumers who want to buy coffee or snacks quickly, and there is no lack of slow experience. .

▲ Picture from: Starbucks

Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon, said:

We designed this experience to meet the needs of people's daily lives. Sometimes you are in a hurry, sometimes you have more time.

This store will be open longer than the traditional Starbucks coffee shop, Monday to Friday from 6 to 22:00 and Saturday to Sunday from 6 to 21:00. Starbucks plans to open two more unmanned cashier stores next year, the second is also in Midtown Manhattan, in the New York Times Building.

"Nobody" is not the purpose, "digital experience" is

For Starbucks, satisfying customers' needs for convenience, contactless payment, reducing queue time, and continuing to operate the third space are not inconsistent with each other, but the focus is slightly adjusted.

CNBC reported that nearly a year and a half ago, Starbucks planned to close more than 400 cafes in the United States in the next 18 months. As more and more customers order online, Starbucks originally planned to adjust the size of its cafes in the next three to five years, but the epidemic has advanced this timetable.

▲ Picture from: Starbucks

The plan also includes adding more self-pickup stores in densely populated urban markets such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as installing pedestrian windows and dual carriageways in cafes located in the suburbs. In November 2020, Starbucks opened its first mobile pickup point in Pennsylvania Plaza in Manhattan.

Starbucks has a similar layout in China. In July 2019, Starbucks' world's first coffee fast concept store landed in Beijing. Consumers can achieve "online point, pick up at the store"; there are a small number of seats in the store, and the third space experience is reserved; the dedicated star delivery rider has an independent pick-up line and exclusive self-pickup cabinet area; the intelligent order dispatch system radiates the entire business Circle, responsible for sharing orders for special star delivery from nearby stores during peak passenger flow times.

▲ Coffee shop. Picture from: Starbucks

Amazon, which provides support for Starbucks, is the leading player in the e-commerce and retail sectors.

In March 2020, Amazon said it plans to sell "Just Walk Out" technology to other retailers . In March 2020, Amazon introduced the "Just Walk Out" experience to some airport stores ; in September this year, Amazon added this technology to several Whole Foods supermarkets; recently, Sainsbury's, a large British grocery chain, is also testing this technology.

Amazon itself also has many Amazon Go stores, including several in Manhattan, one of which is only a few blocks away from the "unmanned cafe" it cooperated with Starbucks.

The cooperation with Starbucks is just a step for Amazon to promote unmanned retail to be more popular than ever. In more and more stores, we complete the purchase quickly, but do not need to make any payment actions we take for granted.

▲ Amazon Go. Picture from: Amazon

However, the development of "unmanned cashier shops" in the past is not ideal, and it is a kind of "superfluous" existence that is difficult to be generally accepted by the market. After all, it cannot be simply said that the "unmanned cashier store" saves the cost of hiring traditional cashiers. It is in a state of long-term mobility.

On the one hand, "unmanned shops" need to pay high technical costs such as cameras, sensors, cloud deployment, and various maintenance costs.

▲ Unmanned store camera. Picture from: Amazon

On the other hand, in the post-epidemic era when the haze has not yet completely dissipated, quick automatic checkouts such as "no need to queue, take and leave" are attractive to both retail giants and consumers. It not only reduces the risk of the epidemic, but also reduces the risk of the epidemic. Bring faster turnover and more customers.

The more far-reaching impact is that unmanned stores such as Amazon Go may generate a large amount of data to have a more comprehensive understanding of consumers' shopping roles, shopping tastes and shopping patterns, as a physical store to achieve seamless connection with online shopping.

▲ Amazon Go shelf. Picture from: TechCrunch

Moreover, as one of the technology companies with the highest market value, the research and development of unmanned stores will not even have any impact on Amazon's finances. Ai Faner once reviewed the development process of Amazon Go. The store itself is not Amazon's goal. It values ​​the infinite possibilities behind it.

According to Professor Chen Liping of Capital University of Economics and Business, absolute "nobody" is not the ultimate pursuit. The ultimate pursuit should start from how to solve the pain points and needs of consumers, such as saving time, saving money, and being equipped with a digital retail operating system. Both are good starting points.

▲ Picture from: Starbucks

Starbucks is obviously also very cautious about "unmanned cafes". The current plan is to open only three. It is not so much that it wants to test the water unmanned cafe, it is better to say that it is packaging itself with a "convenient digital experience." It stated in the official website statement:

This new store concept is consistent with Starbucks’ trade transformation strategy, which is built on the advantages of Starbucks’ digital customer relationships and the Starbucks app.

▲ Coffee shop. Picture from: Starbucks

A union once pointed out that Amazon's cashierless technology will make workers lose jobs, but Amazon said in a press release that employees will be able to "spend more time with customers and provide an excellent shopping experience."

Human value still exists, even more important. When you walk to this so-called unmanned cafe, there are still baristas at the counter, because in addition to making your order, they are also asked to help confused customers.

Grapes are not the only fruit.

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