By Phil Lempert
Technology-based ultra-convenience could turn retail and foodservice upside down.
You’ve already heard how Amazon plans to open as many as 3,000 Amazon Go stores over the next three years—and while there is little doubt that the c-store operators are nervous—fast-food joints like McDonald’s and Burger King have every reason to be scared as well.
Amazon Go offers a lot more than your typical c-store: They are offering freshly made prepared meals, salads, sandwiches and the like and unlike a typical fast food restaurant, you can help yourself to the offerings and just “go,” not having to wait in line to order or to pay. Can’t get much more convenient than that—and for many stopping at a fast-food place, it is all about convenience. Now Amazon can offer that on steroids and offer a wider assortment of foods than your typical McDonald’s or Burger King.
A recent article in Motley Fool points out that McDonald’s now offers mobile order and payment, and it’s adding automated ordering kiosks to its U.S. stores at a rapid clip. Chipotle and Panera have both added app-based ordering and payment options too and made a number of in-restaurant changes designed to accelerate service.
They go on to say that “Amazon Go makes all of those efforts look about as modern as using a landline phone to call in a takeout order.”
Amazon clearly has the technology to offer ultra-convenience. It also has a secret food weapon—Whole Foods, which has led the industry in healthful prepared foods from sushi to salad bars to pizza to exotic ethnic foods. Take that formula, and Amazon Go can offer high-quality, affordable grab-and-go healthy meals.