AWS outlines the future of retail

by Jill Park
18 April 2018
AWS Summit 2018
Cashier-less supermarkets, warehouse robots and taking inspiration from Star Trek, Salmat’s Jill Park details her key takeaways from the Amazon Innovation Day 2018.

The Amazon Web Services Summit is something of a big deal. Taking over the new Sydney Convention Centre this month, it brought together techies from across the country who swarmed to hear the latest news from AWS.

AWS’s services span everything from storage and processing through to voice app development. Salmat’s own websites are hosted by AWS and we are in the process of developing a series of voice apps for Alexa. In fact, our very own Ben Popplestone will be presenting on the topic at Magento Imagine in Las Vegas on 23-25 April. 

While last year’s summit focused heavily on the voice space – unsurprising as Amazon was gearing up to launch Amazon Alexa in Australia in February 2018 – this year’s conference had a much greater emphasis on retail. 

Amazon launched its marketplace in Australia in December 2017 to much fanfare. It was noted to be the company’s biggest launch globally to date in terms of sales. It’s a case of wait and see to find out what the company will launch next in Australia, Amazon Prime being hotly anticipated.

I went along to the Summit’s opening Innovation Day to hear what the company had to say. Here’s what I took away.

The Amazon 7-step guide

Having been with Amazon since the early days in the late nineties, Russ Grandinetti, is well placed to talk about Amazon Retail’s customer centric approach. Here’s a summary of his eight-point approach, which closely follows the company’s leadership principles.

Grantinetti's 7-step approach

  • Customer first: Innovate and simplify

  • Experiments are just that

  • Make hard promises and keep them often

  • Stay close to customers

  • Learn whatever skills it takes

  • Move the needle again 

  • If possible, make it magical  

Grandinetti spoke to a few examples that illustrates the points above. When Amazon introduced its book review function, for example, booksellers initially pushed back. However, the functionality was squarely focused on helping the customer, one of the company’s key principles, so the customer won out. 

Russ Grandinetti

SVP International Consumer, Amazon Russ Grantinetti discussed the Amazon culture.

Implementing ‘one-click’ purchasing is another good example. The functionality allowed customers to purchase with one click. While a simple concept, implementing this was easier said than done but it put the customer first and skills were developed to make it possible. 

Grandinetti was also keen to emphasis the importance of creating a safe environment in which to fail.

Robots – the new warehouse workers

Fulfilment centres aren’t the sexy side of retail, but they are possibly one of the most important. They are made ever more interesting when you throw robots into the mix. 

Tye Brady

Amazon Robotics Chief Technologist Tye Brady discussed the role of robots in fulfilment.

Amazon Robotics’ Chief Technologist Tye Brady detailed how his fleet of robots are used in fulfilment centres across the world to improve the efficiencies of packing orders. Brady’s enthusiasm for the topic was almost difficult to contain at times, and when they showed the video of one of his fulfilment centres, it’s not hard to see why.

According to Brady, there are 26 fulfilment centres worldwide using thousands of his robots. With an Amazon fulfilment centre just round the corner from our Dandenong office, it made me wonder whether there are a fleet of robots inside. 

Amazon Go

Could you get used to walking into a supermarket and walking out without manually checking out at the cashier’s desk? 

Amazon Go is a concept store located in Seattle where shoppers can do just that. All you have to do is download the app and connect it to your Amazon account. Shoppers simply have to tap in using the app when they enter and the app will track all the products you pick up off the shelf. Once you have left the store you will be sent a receipt for the items and an invoice. 

The store has already become something of a tourist attraction in Seattle. However, it’s not hard to see how the technology could quickly catch on. Whether Amazon choose to harness this technology for their own stores or license it to other retailers is still to be seen.

Voice apps explained

Did you know that Star Trek was the inspiration for Amazon’s Alexa? Imagine Captain Kirk in his captain’s chair talking to the ship’s computer. Now consider how you talk to your Alexa in your kitchen? While you may not be able to take things to warpspeed with the Alexa, the general idea is the same – a device that understands your instructions and serves you answers. 

Captain Kirk, Star Trek

Amazon Alexa was inspired by the computer in Star Trek.

Country Manager Alexa Group Australia, Kate Burleigh spoke on the evolution of voice technology in her session titled: Alexa: Exploring ‘Voice First’ technology and human interaction. Burleigh discussed the fast growth the platform has experienced in recent times, with the number of apps available worldwide increasing 400% in the past year alone. In fact, there are already 15,000 skills available in Australia since the launch in February 2018. 

Kate Burleigh

ANZ Amazon Alexa Skills Managing Director Kate Burleigh spoke on the evolution of Alexa.

Salmat is currently in the process of developing its own apps so check back for more information on this in the coming months. 

Find out more about how we can help you reach more customers here or call us on 1300 725 628.

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About the author
Jill Park
Content Marketing Manager

Jill Park is an experienced content marketer with more than a decade of experience writing content and developing content strategy. She has written for trade and consumer titles, associations, government quangos, as well as brands. In her current role she oversees lead generation through content for the Salmat brand and its many subsidiaries.

More articles by Jill Park