In this post, I would like to follow-up on the earlier essay named ‘Amazon go: invisible interaction yet visible personalization’ as well as focus on certain aspects of the future of retail. I believe the Amazon Go concept is not entirely new. Of course, the aspect of no cashiers and no lines is innovative, however the movement from pure online players to owning brick-and-mortar stores successfully is not new. In a Harvard Business Review article by Porter (2001), it was already indicated that that off- and on-line practices complement one another. More recent studies such as a consumer goods report by McKinsey (2016) on the sales practices of Europe’s leading consumer-goods companies indicates that one of the successful criteria of a company is to make bold omnichannel investments.
Amazon would be a great example of extensive omnichannel investments. Aside from Amazon Go, another example would be Amazon Books. A previous pure online player opening physical sources is outstanding in the book or publish industry where most players, like Barnes and Nobles, are actually closing their doors and disappearing in shopping areas (Enwemeka, 2017). Ironically, it comes across as if the Amazon online store has facilitated for the (re-)opening of Amazon Books shops. Just a couple of days ago, another new Amazon Books has been opened in Massachusetts (Enwemeka, 2017). All, related to a long-term plan introduced earlier last year to continue opening the successful bookstores of Amazon (Hook and Whipp, 2016).
What makes these Amazon Books so unique? How do they compete against other players?
One of the most interesting and innovative features of the store is the usage of online aspects implemented in the physical stores. More specifically, the user reviews and ratings as displayed in the web shop (and in the picture below) are also provided in the bookshop and therefore, contributing their service effortlessly to off-line customers as well. Moreover, differentiating themselves from other bookstores.
Second, only top-rated books are offered in the physical store, all provided enough space for customer to easily identify them resulting in higher convenience. Then, a third difference would be that no prices are given instore in order to provide the fluctuating prices which are also on Amazon.com. Customers can access prices through usage of mobile applications, a real omnichannel approach (Zetlin, 2016).
From current experience in retail, I expect most difficulties to occur in operational tasks. For example, the updating of reviews and ratings for all books in store. Not to forget, these books might also be rapidly changing due to the business model’s need of providing top-rated books only. These concerns will increase when Amazon Books shops will continue to expand. Lastly, how could off-line reviews be implemented in the current concept?
To conclude, I believe that customers of Amazon Books truly experience an omnichannel world, where both off- and on-line is integrated. Ready for the future of retail.
Hook and Whipp (2016) https://www.ft.com/content/6bb27dac-6b1e-11e6-a0b1-d87a9fea034f
Porter, M.E. (2001) Strategy and the Internet. Harvard Business Review 79(3) 62-79.