Amazon Go Finally Launches; Alexa Coming to Android & iOS

RetailTechNews’ weekly Amazon Watch brings you some of the company’s biggest moves from the past seven days, analysing how the giant is revolutionising the retail space. In this week’s edition: Amazon Go finally launches; Alexa coming to Android and iOS; and Amazon raises seller fees in apparel and accessories. 

Amazon Go finally launches

Amazon has launched its highly anticipated cashless store: Amazon Go. The store, which has no checkout lines and no cashiers, lets customers scan in through the Amazon Go app. Once in the store, cameras in the ceiling track each customer, and are able to scan QR codes on the items as they are picked up. This combines with weight sensors on the shelves, and the item is then instantly added to the customer’s cart. Once customers are finished shopping, they tap out of the store via the app, and are then charged for the items they took. No cards, no cash, just two taps of your smartphone.

The impact this technology will have on retail is yet to be seen. In China, this sort of payment has been the norm for a few years already. On the other hand, this is a pioneering store in America, with the UK a ways off implementing anything similar.  

While this may be the future of payments in China, where card payments have never really taken hold, the Western world is used to cash payments and card payments; and old habits die hard. Although millennials are often willing to try new technology, which will mean mobile payments via QR codes will catch on to a certain extent, our love of cards and cash will mean you won’t be seeing Amazon Go-esque stores on every corner in the US and Europe.

Alexa Coming to Android & iOS

Amazon is bringing an update to Android and iOS mobile apps, which will allow smartphone users access to the voice-control capabilities of the Alexa virtual assistant. The new capability means users can activate Alexa and Alexa skills by speaking to their smartphones, as they would with Echo devices.

This marks another step for Alexa’s rapid expansion beyond Amazon’s devices. With voice the future of mobile commerce, the only surprise about this move is that it look such a long time to come to fruition. Although Amazon has made steps into consumer tech hardware, it has not got a foothold in the smartphone market. This means that in order to lead the way in voice-search across mobile commerce, they have to partner with the likes of Apple.

It is not clear why it look so long for iOS to integrate with Alexa. However, one theory is that Amazon was deferring to the voice assistants of those native to the phones (Siri for iPhone, Google Assistant for Android), and was not quite ready to enter such a competitive environment.

Amazon Raises Seller Fees in Apparel & Accessories

Amazon is set to raise fees for third-party sellers of apparel and accessories, and reduce them for sellers of jewellery. For goods selling at USD$75 (£53) or higher, fees for sellers of apparel or accessories will rise from 15% to 17%.

According to a survey by CPC Strategy, more than half (52%) of apparel shoppers who bought clothes online over the last six months, say they shopped at Amazon. The move to increase seller fees for apparel, marks Amazon’s desire to tap into this segment with their own private-label brands.

The move will deter some apparel brands from selling their products on the platform, enabling Amazon’s private-label brands to take a greater share of the 52% of apparel shoppers making purchases on Amazon.

For apparel and accessory sellers, the move leaves them with a decision to make. Continue to sell their goods on Amazon, and make a smaller margin, or stop doing so and lose the reach of the platform and the loyalty of its customers.