Earlier this week in Seattle, Amazon opened its first cashierless convenience store to the general public, but made sure to still employ a kind old man to awkwardly watch as you buy your tampons.
Customers gain entry into the store by holding their smartphone up to a scanner and as they take items off the shelves, their purchases are tracked with sensors and cameras. Even with this use of advanced technology, Amazon made sure to provide their customers with some familiar conventions, such as grocery bags, aisles and a disapproving 78-year-old man named Willie to judge your period-related purchases.
“Our user testing proved that in spite of the innovations we’ve made, people still enjoy interacting with humans while shopping,” says Josh Adams, an Amazon representative. “For this reason, we hired 78-year-old Willie Vincent to stand in the feminine hygiene aisle and make shocked and disappointing double-takes of women purchasing tampons.”
This effort to make the tampon-buying shoppers more comfortable has been met with mixed reactions.
“I was excited for this to be a judgment-free shopping experience so I’m a bit disappointed,” says Kimberly Atwood, a Seattle resident. “I’m glad they’re employing real people, but why not just have him stand at the front as a greeter? He just stared at me with a furrowed brow while I timidly grabbed a box of super-plus tampons.”
“He seemed much calmer when I then grabbed a box of regular tampons,” she added. “What is this guy’s whole deal?”
“I loved the old awkward guy in the tampon aisle,” says Carl Wulberg, an Olympia resident who made the trip to visit the Amazon store. “Just because this is revolutionizing the way we shop doesn’t mean we have to make changes to the fact that women are shamed for the private purchases they have to make.”
Despite the feedback they’ve received, Amazon feels confident that if they change too much too fast, their store will feel more like a futuristic space where women feel safe.
“These women giving their feedback have made some really interesting points,” says Adams. “We’re definitely supportive of women, but don’t want to alienate our male customers either. I mean, how would you ladies feel if we took the hot women with boobs out of beer ads?”
Sources confirm women would love that.