Amazon opened something truly revolutionary the other day: A grocery store in Seattle without a single checkout line. Lined with cameras and sensors, you walk into the Amazon Go store, scan an app, pickup what you want and leave. No lines. No loud calls over an intercom for Herb to do a price check on aisle 8 for your corn remover. No trying to pretend that the tabloid story about Prince Harry being a space alien doesn’t actually interest you.
Personally, I love the idea of a store like this. I hate checkout lines. But this only solves a couple of my biggest annoyances. So, in hopes that a bright Amazon engineer might read this, here are a couple of things that should also be incorporated into a high-tech grocery store of tomorrow:
• We need sliding floors. Let me explain: This would come in handy in situations where someone has decided to park their cart right in the middle of the aisle so they can read the ingredients on a box of crackers. First off, who reads ingredients on a box of crackers!?! Any way you look at it, they’re bad for you! But to the point, I’m so polite that I hate asking someone to move. So, I stand there for 20 minutes while saying in the softest voice, “Uh, excuse me … Um, pardon me, but I can’t get through …” Sliding floors, though, could use sensors to spot this and gently “slide” that person out of the way. Presto!
• We need robots in the wine aisle so they can explain the difference between pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc. I mean, I don’t drink either one, but I sure would like to know how two grapes could be that different.
• While we’re at it, how about a robot in the produce aisle to explain what the heck a star fruit is. That one really drives me crazy. What is that thing? Do you eat it?!?
• I also want to be able to cut my own deli meat. This one has less to do with convenience or speed, and more to do with fun. It’s the same reason men like chain saws – equal parts terror and excitement. I also bet that for most, carving your own deli meat is a bucket list item. (It is for me. Right up there with driving a taxi.) I want to slice up ham, salami, and even that weird loaf thing with the wretched-looking olives. Sure, there could be lawsuits over lost fingertips, but I’m betting the increased sales of cold cuts will more than cover it.
• Finally, drones in the parking lot with speakers to remind knuckleheads like me not to forget the beer on the lower rack of the shopping cart. Do you know how many times I’ve done this? All the time! And it’s never there when I return. Cold beer in a hot Florida parking lot is gone in a blink. Drones would help.
Amazon engineers, if you’re out there: Great job with the no-lines store, but maybe think on this. Especially those annoying cracker ingredient-readers.
Also published on Medium.