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Amazon’s latest venture blurs the lines of online and in-store retail

Amazon's latest plan to disrupt the retail industry could finalize the fusion of online and in-store consumer experiences.

The tech giant announced its new venture — a corner store called Amazon Go — Monday. The 1,800 square-foot store in Seattle has no registers. Instead, shoppers scan into the store with their free Amazon Go app, shop as normal and leave the store with the items billed to their Amazon.com account. Consumers don't even need to scan items individually.

The store, which will open to the public in early 2017, could be an inflection point for the long impending marriage of online and in-person retail. The experiences are becoming increasingly similar, said Lisa Falzone, CEO of Revel Systems, a point-of-sales company that also helps retailers with inventory, purchase orders and analytics.

"You see Amazon opening up brick-and-mortar shops. You see brick-and-mortars going online," Falzone said. "It's all becoming one."

Revel recently released a report that revealed 64 percent of consumers think it's important for physical retailers to have a strong online presence, and 93 percent say they research an item online before buying it in person at a store.

While people still shop in person more often than they do online, consumers have increasingly high expectations for stores' technological capacities. Nearly half of the surveyed shoppers said that all retailers — online or brick-and-mortar — should offer delivery. More than one in four consumers want to use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay at checkout over traditional forms of payment.

As Amazon grows its investment in experiences at the nexus of e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail, the merging of the online and in-store retail industries is likely to continue. The tech giant has previously launched a network of bookstores and pop-up shops, as well as the Amazon Dash Button.

Revel Systems advises brick-and-mortar retailers to shore up their online presence to remain competitive. Soon enough, it could be online retailers getting the advice to build a physical presence to maintain their edge.