How Amazon Go Will Drive Brands to Develop New Ways to Target Customers

With geo-fencing, personalized offers and more location-based marketing

Customers at the newly opened Amazon Go store. Getty Images
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Although it’s only been around for a week, Amazon Go is already making retail, brand and advertising executives consider how they should adapt this new business model to their own companies. Industry experts have found multiple ways Amazon Go could inspire how brands connect and market to a consumer, arguing brands need to think beyond Amazon Go’s cashier-less experience and instead focus on geo-fencing, location-based marketing and working together with the brands on the shelves to effectively compete.

Wayne Townsend, president of marketing agency Epsilon, thinks using some of these techniques gives retailers a chance.

“In the transforming retail environment, there is an immediate opportunity for brands to fuse data, technology and content to engage [a] loyalty program (their best customers) with geo-location reminders to [incentivize] store visits and real-time offers via mobile push notifications when they are in store,” said Townsend.

Matthew Davis, chief marketing officer of mobile data company Reveal Mobile, doesn’t think brands will stop at geo-location or real-time tools. He suggested brands should engage with in-store customers with augmented reality that reveals more information about a product and allowing them to checkout using a mobile phone. Davis thinks this is a time for brands to stand out.

“A lot of the innovation will be driven by the brands sitting on the shelves themselves,” said Davis. “It’s an opportunity for the retailer to collaborate with the brand sitting on the shelves.”

Geo-fencing is location-based and turns on when a smartphone enters a certain geographical perimeter. Using geo-fencing presents a number of marketing opportunities to reach consumers, many of which can be personalized.

“There’s a reason they didn’t open up 25 of these. It’s half laboratory at this point.”
Ian Baer, chief strategy officer at Rauxa

“If you’re a packaged good, consider geo-fencing the store around routine behaviors like meal times to intercept shoppers in a rush,” said Jonathan Liew, strategy director at Fetch, a mobile agency.

Retailers and brands working together is nothing new. But, as Amazon Go and other retailers amp up the commerce stakes, brands need to think about how to stay relevant in a consumers mind.

“Brands need to more contextually reach shoppers ahead of time and seamlessly guide them through to purchase,” Liew said.

However, not all marketers are hopping aboard the Amazon Go train. Ian Baer, chief strategy officer at marketing agency Rauxa, cautions against implementing any fast change simply because Amazon Go is in existence. “There’s a reason they didn’t open up 25 of these,” said Baer. “It’s half laboratory at this point.”

He does point to Amazon Go’s use of cameras to show how comfortable consumers can be about giving up their privacy (if the technology makes their life easier). Baer also thinks retailers should take note of just how central the Amazon Go app is to the actual store experience: there’s always a phone in your pocket or hand. But for now, Baer recommends brands to continue to innovate on their own part and let Amazon do its own thing.

“[The] Amazon Go model is like anything [else] Amazon does,” he said, “worth watching and probably aligned to learn from both good and bad customer experiences.”

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.