Sunday, September 30, 2018

Just walk out?



    Every day—make that, every goddamn day—I tell a story, or give my opinion in this space. And you, indulgent friends that you are, read it, which I deeply appreciate.
     Though now I'm looking for your opinion, because I'm confused.

      Last week I just had to visit the new Amazon Go store on South Franklin, part of the $1 trillion sell-everything-to-everybody-all-the-time company's efforts to eliminate all minimum wage jobs from the world by automating a range of jobs from delivery drivers to cashiers. I'm not sure who's going to be able to buy their stuff if nobody is employed, but I guess that's an issue for another day. Though, now that I think of it, judging from the number of employees, in orange fleeces or polos, overseeing the aisles of bottled water and prepackaged sandwiches at Amazon Go, Amazon still has a while to go before it fulfills its corporate dream. 
     Anyway, in the spirit of experiment, I bolted in, grabbed a thin can of iced coffee, and left, the glass gates smoothly sliding apart for me, as $2.49 (plus six cents tax, which seems suspiciously low) was deducted from my credit card account.
     In the two minutes, 13 seconds I was in the store (they time you, like it's a race) I noticed this array of coffee mugs announcing "JUST WALK OUT," the source of my question today:

     "JUST WALK OUT"—is that an appealing slogan? Do you want to own a coffee mug with "JUST WALK OUT" on it? "JUST WALK OUT?" Is that something good? Something to be desired? Aren't the situations where you "just walk out" uniformly bad? Burning buildings. Lousy plays. Crowded restaurant lobbies. 
    It might be nice, I suppose, to grab a few goodies without having to interact with a slack-jawed clerk, whom I end up thanking despite the fact it should really be the other way around. But not so nice that I want to pay $5.99 to celebrate this development on a coffee cup. 
    Or—and here is where you come in—am I missing something? Does "JUST WALK OUT" have some kind of edgy hip appeal which, being old, I am oblivious to? I'm sincerely curious? How did Amazon get to rule the world with such a tin ear? Or is the fault mine?


  1. You need the Amazon Go app on your phone. Then you grab whatever you want, and walk out the door without without checking out. Everything is somehow scanned and charged to your account. Maybe it gives people the same adrenaline rush as shoplifting, which is the same rush people get from gambling, even while they're losing but anticipting winning.

  2. As the principal shopper in my household, yes “ Just walk out” is appealing. Because I’m walking out and away from the unpleasantness I often face in stores of waiting and waiting in line. I’m walking out and avoiding the people in the 12 and under line with 25 items...the gal who I holds up the whole line to run back for one more thing, the person who needs to find the change to count out....The one who can’t figure out how to properly use the credit card machine etc...etc...

    Yes Just Walk Out is very very appealing to me And I’m your age.

  3. So...what do those employees in orange fleeces or polos do, exactly? Stock the shelves?

    Because even that's becoming automated. I once saw a presentation for an automatic shelf-stocking system that brings product out on a series of conveyors behind the shelves, which themselves have micro-conveyors, one for each product, running from the back of the shelf to the front. As customers pluck a product from the shelf, the little belt it's sitting on moves the next one up to the front. I don't know if any Amazon Go stores have this, but it's probably just a matter of time.

    1. The store I was in had those employees answering questions and making recommendations as well as stocking.

  4. I agree that “just walk out” betrays a tin ear. I bet some faithful reader will come up with a more mellifluous and cogent slogan. I propose “No-stop shopping.”


  5. For years walking out was a frowned upon big time. A guy stuck in a home with a squalling infant and pregnant significant other demanding you go out and buy more diapers, all the while the expenses are seriously eating into the available beer money. The solution?, just walk out. A far better slogan on a cup would be "stay the course." That choice is certainly more romantic.

  6. Referring to an EGDD from a few days back, dress her in summertime togs and Botticelli's Aphrodite would look much like one of the lady mannikins at Target.


  7. The slogan doesn't move me, but the concept is not totally unappealing. I like the self checkout lanes at grocers. To scan 5-10 items quickly, use Apple pay and be on my way like The Flash is very satisfying, and far better than choosing the wrong check-out line and waiting while the cashier calls for an employee to confirm a price on the frozen carrots WITHOUT butter sauce. Since amazon has been avoiding state taxes as part of their business plan, I wouldn't buy their coffee, or their cup.

  8. Not as pithy, but how about "Choose what you want and go"?


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