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Amazing Amazon – and their pop up shops…

 

Amazon.com is using pop up shops to trial concepts and introduce new products, but also has a longer-term strategy.

Amazon.com must be one of the (if not THE) most prolific and successful e-commerce brands, and is no stranger to innovative thinking… especially when it comes to blending cutting-edge technology with retail applications. They are currently working on a number of projects which could have more significant impact on the way we shop (didn’t the launch of the Amazon.com shopping site… 20 years ago… make us re-think the way we buy books ?)

Not far from their headquarters in Seattle USA, Amazon is testing a grocery store concept which uses no cash or checkout counters. Customers tap their mobile phone (loaded with the Amazon Go app) on entering the store, which then tracks items they take off the shelf, adds them to a virtual shopping cart – and charges the total spend to the customer’s Amazon Prime account as they leave. They call it “just walk out technology”…the graphic states “No Lines. No Checkout. (No, Seriously.)”. Watch the YouTube video here. The concept is being trialled with Amazon employees initially, and may open to the public early next year. Source #1.

It seems Amazon has always had an eye on the future and technology, expanding into various retail merchant partnerships (Borders bookstores, Target USA, Sears Canada, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare and Lacoste), the US Postal Service (product deliveries on Sunday in some major US cities) and recently with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (researching the concept of deliveries via drones…). Most of those associations have, or will, enable further reach and applications for the Amazon range of products and services.

So why would Amazon – a significant player in e-commerce – dabble in bricks and mortar ? This year they’ve been using pop up stores in shopping centres across the US to promote Amazon hardware – featuring the Amazon Kindle and Fire tablets, Echo and Dash Button. Forbes.com commented… “what helps Amazon the most is to sell… Amazon. In other words, by selling the devices that increase Amazon’s reach into your home and your life and most important into your shopping habits…” Source #2.

The website for the Amazon.com – Pop-Up store reads just like a familiar retail experience… “Ask an Expert, Go for a Test Drive, Make it Yours”. Source #3. But I wonder if that’s where the experience ends… are they just demonstrating the units, not available for walk-away purchase (until you log onto Amazon.com) ? These guys are using pop up (ie. physical stores) to attract interest in their products and lead customers to their on-line offerings… not just the hardware components but also their wider (sophisticated / immersive / customer-retentive) range of apps, accounts and concepts.

As an example, the company has sold over 5 million Echo units – smart speakers capable of voice interaction, providing real-time information, also connecting to home-based smart devices, playback of music, audio book and podcasts – and ordering pizza or car-rides (and of course Amazon products on-line…). The Echo is really just a piece of technology, but it provides a gateway for Amazon (and affiliates) to enter customer lifestyles and influence their shopping preferences.

Amazon is using pop up to trial their new concepts (no commitment… if it doesn’t work or needs tweaking… they could just close it down), promote their brand and introduce new technologies. And all the while they’re leading customers further into the web of Amazon services… Clever, huh ?

 

source #1 –         Inside Retail.co.nz – Amazon

source #2 –         Forbes.com – Amazon Pop-Up Stores – What’s Missing

source #3 –         Amazon.com – Pop-Up store

 

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images :            Amazon.com

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