This month, Amazon debuted its first full-sized cashierless grocery store in North America — and while media buzz centers on the operational benefit and customer experience of “Just Walk Out” technology, retail design pioneer Mark Landini says the long-term impact on retail architecture and interior design is equally revolutionary.
“There is huge potential for reimagining store layouts,” says Landini, whose firm Landini Associates is known for radically reinventing supermarket floorplans and organization for brands including Esselunga, Walgreens, Loblaws, and ALDI. “For example, ‘Just Walk Out’ can also mean ‘just walk in, anywhere,’ which opens the door to 360-degree entry and exit points and frees designers from traditional approaches to space planning.”
Overall store footprints may become more adaptable as well, says Landini, who notes that “an average supermarket could reclaim roughly 15% of its floor area by eliminating checkout counters.” Those space savings might be used to expand food offerings, add new customer-focused services or amenities, or even shrink store square footage to fit full-service groceries into storefronts previously too small to be considered — opening the door for more supermarkets in more urban neighborhoods and “food deserts” worldwide.
Moreover, with Amazon pursuing “Just Walk Out” technology worldwide — and other influential brands such as ALDI now planning to develop their own cashierless groceries — it’s possible that global supermarket design norms will change faster and more radically than anyone imagines.
“Boldness and bravery are essential traits in today’s fast-paced business world,” concludes Landini, whose firm is currently working on several groundbreaking new supermarket ventures set to debut this year. “Design breakthroughs like Amazon’s cashierless stores show that it’s always possible to question everything and truly ‘reinvent normal.’“