Posted: 15/04/2021

What can fine food retailers learn from Amazon’s use of data

What can fine food retail learn from Amazon's use of data

Nigel Bogle of The EPOS Bureau says Amazon’s use of data is something all independents should try to emulate.

Like them or loathe them, Amazon can be admired for its ability to adapt to the shifting retail climate and, more than being predictors of the future, they have actively set out to create it by pioneering a variety of tech; streamlining how we acquire and engage with products and information across different sectors, writes Bogle.

What can fine food retail learn from Amazon's use of data - Nigel Bogle
Nigel Bogle

In my view, a large contributor to their success has been their obsession with information. It is official, data is now more valuable than oil. 

Within Amazon, vast amounts of customer, product and purchase data are analysed every second of every day with the intention of making online buying processes, faster, simpler and incrementally more relevant to the consumer.

Does this mean that with the launch of a bricks-and-mortar presence on the UK high street – the pilot Amazon Go store in Ealing – that all independents should pack up and go home?  In short, I don’t believe so, at least not in the speciality food space, and I don’t actually think that competing with independents is Amazon’s short-term objective. 

I’d be more concerned for the likes of Tesco and ASDA at this particular time, because this technology has the potential to eradicate queues and automatic tills, The phrase “Unexpected item in the bagging area!” may soon be a thing of the past.

There is no arguing that the plethora of cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence that combines to bring Amazon Go to life is extremely impressive but I don’t see – or want, frankly – this tech popping up in my local deli any time soon. 

Surely, part of the sheer joy of going to a deli or cheesemonger is for the customer experience and I believe this is ‘known’ before consumers visit. That said, I believe independents right across the food retail spectrum need to get themselves ‘EPOS fit’ in an increasingly challenging retail climate.  

For years, we have urged people to stop wasting money on generic till systems and instead invest in sector-specific EPOS technology which understands the nuances of running a food retail business. Ingredients, allergens, wastage, transferring products between departments, understanding which customers spend, what they buy and what they don’t buy. With the right EPOS system, it’s all there and it’s easy to interpret.

There is a lot of what you might call “data blindness” in the sector and unlocking this is the key to getting businesses in good shape should Amazon (or anyone else) ever decide that today is the day they set their sights firmly on the independent food retailer.

An EPOS system that properly understands food retail can immediately transform your ability to engage with your customer and enable you to make their experience more informed and enjoyable.

By all means be impressed by the technology on show at Amazon but don’t forget, at the end of the technology rainbow, it’s all about the data and what you do with it to keep your customers coming back through the door.

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