Smartcart’s Heiman: ”AmazonGo is a fun idea, but unsustainable for scaling”
As American retail giant Amazon opened its first AmazonGo concept store in Seattle on Monday, Finnish digital retail start-up Smartcart’s CEO Petteri Heiman slams Bezoz’ latest creation as an “interesting test project”, but one that that is ultimately “economically unsustainable”.
AmazonGo, the personnel and cashier free “walk-out store” conceived by Amazon relies on an infrastructure of thousands upon thousands of cameras and sensors, that monitor the movement of customers and products within the store.
- The concept is intriguing and the AmazonGo store in itself is proof of the rapid evolution in the field of digitalization of consumer retail. However, it seems to me that an infrastructure this heavy is simply too complex and costly to scale up, in order to be profitable. At least for the time being, says CEO of Finnish digital retail start-up Smartcart Ltd Petteri Heiman.
Heiman and the company he started in 2014, have quickly grown to be leading experts in the digitalization of retail, point-of-sale marketing and consumer behavior in the data age. Smartcart’s shopping carts are equipped with tablet screens, that work as links between the digital infrastructure of the supermarket and certain applications in the consumers mobile phones.
Though the end products of Heiman and Bezoz are different, their visions are rather similar – to connect the consumers to the stores’ digital infrastructures, in order to provide a smooth and effortless shopping experience. However, in the race of growth and outreach, the Finn’s model seems to gain ground more rapidly now. The Smartcart is also able to offer a wide palette of services such as store navigation, personalized offers and inspirations in the form of recipes, as well as product location and information based on ethical or dietary preferences.
- Smartcart’s way of connecting the store with the customer and vice versa, is lighter and more diverse and agile compared to Amazon’s model, Heiman says.
The high expectations on anything Jeff Bezoz and Amazon does, had to be downplayed by the CEO himself in the wake of the concept store premier on Monday. Rumors that connected the AmazonGo concept with the company’s recent purchase of the Whole Foods franchise were denied by Bezoz. The AmazonGo model is better suited for smaller corner shops than giant full service supermarkets.
The real kicker of the AmazonGo store, of course, is for the customer never having to stand in line at the cashier or handle payment transactions. Apart from all the other useful features, Heiman’s Smartcarts, thanks to their built-in scanners, are also able to bypass the traditional cash registers.
- Technically it would be no challenge to install cashier software in the carts, making it possible for the customer to roll right out into the parking lot, passing a reader gate similar to that of AmazonGo. We haven’t implemented this feature in Finland yet, but a version of the automated cash register is already running on our carts in Paraguay, Heiman says. I believe it’s merely a question of time before we can offer that feature to customers here in Finland, too.
- Smartcarts started rolling out into Finnish supermarkets last year and can be found in fifty plus stores as of January. The company will triple the amount of stores during 2018.
- Last year, Smartcart Ltd began a pilot project including consumer research and data analysis in Paraguay. The project was recently extended and refinanced.
- Satisfaction with the Smartcart experience is measured in real time on the company’s website. The Happy Users index has been steadily above 80 %.
- The next batches of Smartcarts are being rolled out at the end of January to K-Citymarkets in Helsinki Ruoholahti, Savonlinna and Seinäjoki.
FOR MORE INFO,PLEASE CONTACT:
Petteri Heiman CEO, founder
+358 40 900 0019
Mia Lönn creative director
+ 358 40 6206483
SMARTCART Oy/Ltd is a Finnish technology, service and media company specializing in innovative marketing and service solutions in cooperation with and tailored for the retail sales branch. As of 2017 more than 50 supermarkets in Finland are members of the SMARTCART media network. The company is projecting a five million euro turnover in 2018.