5 Feb 2018 | Aeroventic
What Does Amazon Go Mean for the Future of HVACR in Retail?


On the week that the world’s first completely self-service grocery store, Amazon Go, opened its doors to the public in Seattle, USA, across the Atlantic, the UK’s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, announced a nationwide management shake-up putting 1700 jobs at risk. Resource Data Management (RDM) take a look at what the latest launch of Amazon Go means for the future of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) contractors and suppliers in the retail industry.

Amazon Go the “Store of the Future”

In the world’s first self-service grocery store, convenience is of utmost importance. Amazon Go aims to eliminate what can be perceived as tiresome processes that customers currently accept as the norm when shopping.

Hailed as the “store of the future”, Amazon Go has removed the need for checkouts, shopping trolleys and baskets. The shop front of Amazon Go looks more like that of an underground station than of a conventional convenience store. In place of cash registers is an array of scanners where customers scan their smartphones as they enter.

Amazon’s sky-high cameras and sensors track customers through the store, monitoring the items they pick up and also those they place back on the shelf. There is no need for shopping trolleys or baskets as customers put their items straight into their bags or pockets, before walking out the shop without a physical cash or card transaction taking place. Customers are subsequently charged for their purchases via their online account within a few minutes of leaving the store.

Future Challenges in the Retail Sector

Over the last ten years, the retail sector has witnessed a vast transformation in consumer shopping habits, with where, when and how often people shop changing at an ever-increasing rate. Today, consumers are looking to their most convenient routes as they aim to simplify and remove complexity from their lives as much as possible.

A new faction of shoppers is already moving away from weekly shops at large out-of-town superstores, substituting these with home delivery or click and collect options and taking frequent trips to local grocery stores to pick up essentials. According to a report by Kantar WorldPanel, UK online grocery sales accounted for 7.3% of the market share in 2017, making British shoppers second only to South Koreans in the proportion of groceries they buy online. The biggest challenge that retailers face today is how to supply online shoppers with home deliveries and still make a profit.

As a result, the function of retail floor space needs to adapt to these requirements, presenting opportunities for energy-conscious organisations to ensure that cost efficiency are developed, shaped and maintained.

Opportunities for Retailers

Retailers should take note of the downtown location and deliberately small footprint of Amazon Go. The convenience store takes up only 549 metres (1,800 feet) however Amazon has made the very most of their small space and have even included a kitchen where an on-site chef prepares food behind a glass window looking out to passers-by on the street. 

What Does Amazon Go Mean for the Future of HVACR in Retail? - 1Amazon Go Kitchen (Image: Amazon)

Amazon’s concept makes a visit to Go enticing and as simple as possible, appealing to customers who want to grab exactly what they want and walk straight back out in a matter of minutes.

As retailers redefine their strategies, there will be several opportunities for innovative building energy management solutions (BEMS). To support these opportunities and maximise on the infrastructure already in place, a flexible HVACR and lighting control system that has the ability to communicate across open protocols is required to adapt and incorporate change of use scenarios in retail.

Opportunities for Contractors

As retail outlets alter their physical space by size or allocation, sophisticated and flexible HVACR technology from contractors will be essential to monitor and reduce energy consumption.

One such opportunity is the combination of potentially disparate systems such as; refrigeration, air conditioning, energy and security to give more control and develop a precise understanding of energy use across retail estates. An advanced control system front-end such as the DMTouch gives users the ability to communicate over open protocols and bring together disparate systems, without annual license or maintenance fees.

Retailers and Contractors Must Plan Ahead

At the time of writing Amazon has no plans to expand their self-service Go stores across additional locations and with a huge cost involved in the investment of the cameras and sensors required, it is unlikely that Amazon or their competitors could roll out the ‘Just Walk Out’ technology anytime soon.

What Does Amazon Go Mean for the Future of HVACR in Retail? - 2Amazon Go Exterior (Image: Amazon)

However, retailers, contractors and suppliers must not be complacent and should take serious note of these new developments now, by adapting their long-term business plans appropriately. Where possible retailers should plan ahead to implement a pre-emptive, rather than a reactive strategy to allow for a flexible future-proof approach to energy management using building management software.

It is important for stores to continually adapt their space allocation to meet chnaging customer demands after all, the easier it is for customers to buy from a store the more likely they are to return.

About Resource Data Management

Resource Data Management (RDM) is a global energy and building controls specialist who are trusted to provide customised HVACR and BEMS solutions to the world’s leading companies.

RDM energy solutions provide retailers, contractors and facilities management companies with access to real-time performance data giving businesses full control over energy use.

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