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Earlier this month, Amazon opened a bookstore in a mall that used to be home to Barnes & Noble. Many have written about this foray into the physical realm: It is called a potential library of the future; Amazon itself has called Darth Vader’s book business; and some have questioned the possibilities due a location that connects online and offline commerce.
Those are all interesting considerations, but like other Amazon bots, the undercover company hasn’t said whether this is a small experiment or the start of a larger initiative will lead to. Amazon Books nationwide locations. So I don’t want to consider the impact this physical store can have on Amazon – I want to question why other traditional stores are on their laurels.
Seriously, why aren’t there more retail stores like Amazon’s book store test? A store has a wide variety of goods on physical shelves with prices fluctuating to sync with the online version of the store. Of course, some changes will be needed to accommodate those who are not fond of change, but there is potential here to unify the online and offline shopping experience.
People use their smartphones when they shop. Often this is because they want to learn more about an item before buying it. One study since 2013 say only six percent of people who use their smartphones in a real store plan to buy an item online. The rest of the people are looking for more information about the item’s quality, the manufacturer’s reputation and other data that can inform the purchase. (I’m sure that has changed dramatically over the past two years, with Amazon’s image-based physical product search helping to lead the charge.) However, that could change as much. people use their smart phones to find the best prices. Why buy something from a brick-and-mortar store when you can order it online for a lower price, even with the shipping costs in mind? Unless someone needs the item right away – in that case maybe someone who is not a comparison shoppers – most of the time, the lower price wins.
Retailers can change this by simulating an Amazon Books model that automatically matches the prices of items sold in their store to those sold on their website. Right now There is no guarantee For example, a Walmart store will match the price of an item sold on Walmart.com and other stores with a similar policy. It’s almost like retailers really want shoppers to treat their stores like showrooms.
The truth is I don’t want to check the prices of items on my smartphone. I’m hesitant enough to shop – I usually pick up an item, think about buying it, then re-order it right before I get to the checkout aisle. Many times. Having to worry about the price discrepancy between the retailer’s physical location and their online store gave me even more reason to reconsider my purchase. Knowing that the price I see on the shelf is the one I pay online will make the whole process easier. (While I can still compare prices with Amazon and other sellers, it’s foolish to expect retailers to automatically match the competitor’s prices instead of asking shoppers to notice the difference. That brings all the benefits of shopping in a real store with less of the drawbacks.
Of course, Amazon can get rid of this as it’s running tests in one location and is comfortable with super thin margins on the items it sells. Other retailers have their own challenges, such as the number of employees needed for physical locations across the US, that make it difficult for them to buy Amazon Books and bridge the gap between online shopping and offline.
But that may be essential for these stores to thrive. What will happen as Amazon gradually becomes increasingly competitive with physical locations? The company’s already expand its grocery businessfor example, and is reducing the time it takes to ship items to customers by multiple services. Amazon Books – if it succeeds – could easily become Amazon Market. There are other advantages, too. If an item on a shelf is sold out, retail stores can provide incentives for people to pull out their phones and ship the item home later. Surely that’s better than just losing customers.
Stores may also apply dynamic prices to certain goods. I’m not saying they should lower the price and do a “price increase”. just like Uber does – that would not be suitable for shoppers, regulators or regulators – but it would allow stores to have more control over the price of items that are on or off the shelf. Why does the quasi-fixed price change only once a week, or when the discount continues, when you can experiment with different prices to see which one works best?
Perhaps we’ll see more online sellers follow in Amazon’s footsteps here. Online stores seem easier to showcase a physical location than traditional stores in order to get people to use their website. The future is digital; better to build for that future and experiment with the past than vice versa. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if traditional retailers like Walmart and Target try to consolidate this.
If that happens, Amazon’s willingness to shop is easy. It does not ask people to leave their homes to buy something; Nor ask them to buy something online if they want to process the item in person. The company transforms to fit its customers instead of asking customers to change their lives (even by asking them to drive somewhere) to shop.
Isn’t that better than driving to a traditional store and having to check the prices on your smartphone to get the best deal? Who wants to waste that trip? Damn it, who wants to wander around the crowded stores who are struggling to push their carts and check the prices on their phones at the same time? Taking an item, putting it in the registry and getting a fair price for it isn’t all that difficult.