Inspired by the Asian fruit trucks, Amazon Toco leverages Amazon Prime's shopper database to curate the best selection of goods for select neighborhoods (imagine a bodega that grows to suit the community's needs over time). Deployed at certain times of the day, customers can look for nearby Tocos through the app to find goods they need, allowing for a more spontaneous and social engagement when grocery shopping.
Grocery shopping is a complex social behavior. We all have our go-to grocery stores and go-to items to purchase. And because food is so closely tied to our culture, the way we shop for groceries varies widely from person to person.
And over the years, hours and hours of research have been invested in improving the grocery shopping experience–from improving shopping carts through computer vision to bringing in new grocery delivery systems to rethinking the interior aisle organizations. But although these options sound enticing, people still prefer to walk the aisles and really see what they are getting.
Take a look at delivery systems: although convenient, many fail to meet consumers' demands. Not only is it limited to certain items, but there is a growing frustration with what the service promises and what it can offer. For example, although fresh produce is the #1 category people value in their grocery purchases, it is also the last product category fulfilled through delivery. And even with the rise of curb-side pickup, 85% of sales were still in stores at the peak of Covid.
So, in the near future, where efficiency drives design and businesses, how might we reimagine grocery shopping while preserving aspects of the in-store shopping experience?
The value-add of Amazon Toco is to provide aspects of in-person grocery shopping by shifting the paradigm of how we shop–a spontaneous microshopping experience. Although it may not be as convenient as standard "delivery" options, Tocos encourage people to go outside and engage with the community around them. You could be a consumer looking to buy groceries or just someone walking around the neighborhood–Tocos are accessible by everyone with or without the app. Imagine this–you are on the beach on a hot summer day, craving some iced coffee. Instead of driving to a nearby town, maybe there is a Toco nearby that you can purchase from!
To streamline the customer experience, Tocos are divided into four product types: fresh produce/fruits, snacks/beverages, pastries/dairy, and personal care/other goods. They each come with individual colors and unique names so they can be identifiable from afar and build rapport over time. Deployed from nearby hotspot warehouses to designated locations/times around the neighborhood, they are loaded with items informed by the prime database of that neighborhood. As a living system, over time, Tocos will know what items are most desired in a particular area and what items are not.