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Amazon’s no-cashier store opens its doors

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

After more than a year of fits and starts, Amazon opened the doors of its cashier-less Amazon Go store to the public on Jan. 22.

The 1,800 sq.-ft. store, located in an Amazon office building in downtown Seattle, touts advanced shopping technology that supports what Amazon calls a “just walk out shopping experience” — one that doesn’t require cashiers or any type of formal checkout. The format combines computer vision, sensor fusion, and machine-learning algorithms, along with a dedicated app.

Amazon Go opened its doors in a test mode in December 2016, open exclusively to Amazon employees. The company’s website teased that it would open to the public in early 2017, but glitches with the technology pushed back its public debut.

The format features fresh ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, grocery essentials —from staples like bread and milk to artisan cheeses and locally made chocolates — as well as Amazon Meal Kits.

Here’s how it works: Shoppers launch the Amazon Go app as they enter the store, and take the products they want off of store shelves. The “walk out” technology automatically detects when products are taken off (or returned) to the shelves, and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When customers are done shopping, they just leave the store. Shortly after, they receive a digital receipt and their Amazon account is also charged for the order, according to the website.

The online giant has not yet announced any expansion plans for Amazon Go. It also said it has no plans to add the technology to its Whole Foods Market stores, according to Reuters.

Amazon Go is part of Amazon’s ongoing push into brick-and-mortar retail, which includes Amazon Books stores, Amazon Fresh Pickup locations for online groceries, and its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods.

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Kroger plugs into North Carolina Pharmacist eCare Plan

BY Michael Johnsen

Kroger on Monday took a significant step forward toward managing patients and establishing their pharmacies as healthcare destination centers across North Carolina.

The Cincinnati grocer and AssureCare announced that they achieved Level III capability from Community Care of North Carolina for the Pharmacist eCare Plan initiative. Using AssureCare’s solution, MedCompass, Kroger pharmacies in North Carolina can share care plans electronically, support care coordination and actively participate with CCNC and its patient-centered medical home and care-management activities. By virtue of being able to submit the eCare plan, they are able to engage the patient and his/her care team, improving health outcomes and reducing costs.

“This level 3 capability allows Kroger pharmacies to transmit patient active medication lists, drug therapy problems, gaps in care, interventions and patient-centered goals,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Pharmacy and The Little Clinic, said. “By using AssureCare, our pharmacists have a much broader, real-time view of the patient’s care plan, and consequently, they have the tools to go ‘beyond the fill,’ improving patient health outcomes, enhancing patient engagement, and reducing costs.”

“By using AssureCare, our pharmacists have a much broader, real-time view of the patient’s care plan, and consequently, they have the tools to go ‘beyond the fill,’ improving patient health outcomes, enhancing patient engagement, and reducing costs.”

“The Pharmacist eCare Plan is a dynamic plan that contains information on the patient, pharmacist and care team’s concerns and goals related to medication optimization. The care plan may also contain information related to individual health and social risks that may impact care, planned interventions, expected outcomes and referrals to other providers or for additional services, for example nutrition consultation or diagnostic laboratory studies,” Jim Kirby, senior director pharmacy services Kroger, said.

Kroger’s community pharmacists can also use AssureCare’s technology platform to identify what interventions or services a patient needs and drive patient services like medication reconciliation, adherence monitoring and medication synchronization, immunizations, Medicare plan reviews, patient engagement, communication to the electronic health record to other healthcare providers and billing for enhanced services.

“Reaching Level 3 is an important milestone. AssureCare is an innovator and their technology allows Kroger pharmacies to now communicate with commercial health plans, government sponsored health programs, hospitals, physician practices, Accountable Care Organizations quality assurance organizations, Risk Bearing Entities and other care team members in a way that gives depth and context to their pharmacy’s activities,” Troy Trygstad, vice president, Pharmacy Programs at Community Care of North Carolina, said. “This is an important step towards pharmacies’ meaningful integration with the rest of the health care team. Without the Pharmacist eCare Plan, it is difficult for pharmacies to participate in widespread healthcare system payment reform efforts and they risk getting left behind.”

“I commend CCNC and Kroger’s innovative pharmacy leadership for taking a pioneering role in creating this eCare Plan standard which not only exchanges real-time pharmacy related clinical information, but also leverages the depth and breadth of AssureCare’s member-centric technology that helps coordinate the entire ecosystem of a human life,” Yousuf Ahmad, president and CEO AssureCare, said. “It allows pharmacists to exchange real-time information with the entire care team of the patient with a keen focus on the triple aim – improving health outcomes, engaging patients, and reducing costs.”

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Kroger names pharma vet to government affairs post

BY Michael Johnsen

Kroger last week named Matt Perin head of government relations and regulatory affairs.

“Matt’s involvement and relationships with leaders in Washington will help advance our federal and state lobbying efforts and elevate Kroger’s unique story among these influential stakeholders,” Keith Dailey, Kroger’s senior director of external affairs, said. “We look forward to having Matt’s expertise on the ground in Washington.”

Perin will be based in Washington, D.C. and will be responsible for Kroger’s federal government relations efforts, including working closely with the company’s supermarket operating divisions and other subsidiaries to counsel and guide state and local advocacy activities.

Perin previously served as deputy director of government relations for the Bayer Corporation. Before joining Bayer, he was staff director for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Nutrition & Horticulture. He has also served as a Congressional legislative assistant and political campaign manager. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati.

 

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