Why Amazon is Likely to Open a Bricks & Mortar Store

Opening Soon

Opening Soon

Traditional retailers are having a tough time on the high streets currently.

With consumer spending down, both in the US & UK due to the continued economic downturn.

In testament to this decline, and rather ironically, Rackspace occupies what was a shopping mall in San Antonio, Texas; hosting the websites of many online retailers who are seeing their businesses grow.

Don’t Call Me a TWiT

Om Malik was lambasted by his co-presenters on last weeks TWiT, hosted by Leo Laporte, with Robert Scoble, and Justin Robert Young for suggesting Amazon would open a physical store.

He couldn’t get them to understand where he was coming from, but I saw what he was getting at.

Others on the show continued to think from a traditional perspective, of Amazon selling product. With comparisons to Best Buy and Apple, demonstrating their closeted view. Leo saying that ordering online, was likely to see the end of all but the most undeliverable of goods in stores. Whilst, in fact Om had hit on something quite fundamental.

Birds of a Feather

By nature humans are social animals, tribal even, however much time we like to spend online, we still like to meet face to face. This can be highlighted by the popularity of TweetUps, Social Media Clubs, LinkedIn Meet Ups and location based apps such as Foursquare.

For all of our online networking some of the best networking we do is face to face. Seth Godin actively encourages Linchpin types to meet up a couple of times a year. The Start Up Weekend organisation gets like minded individuals together for a whole weekend to start brand new companies.

So, if getting together is so popular and part of our nature, doesn’t it make sense that we would go to a physical Amazon store to meet others like us? Now this store may not sell product, or it may have limited lines.

The Apple store is all about the “Apple experience”. Full of young adults and kids getting in the habit of using Apples latest technology with no intention to purchase, even if they had the money. No, these future business owners, programmers, web designers, artists, musicians, and physicians are being schooled in the joys of the Apple brand.

When it comes time for them to suggest what equipment the company should buy or what tablet device to get their kids, Apple already has it’s foot in the door.

The Social Shop

If Apple can do this, why not Amazon? If they can find a way to indoctrinate the youth of today whilst supporting the existing loyal Amazon customer, through a physical social store, their future is all but certain. Maybe a place for book club meet ups, musician jamming sessions, easy returns of large goods or technical support. A place to present up coming products or try out a Kindle.

I am sure minds better than mine can come up with hundreds of ways Amazon could use a physical store to enhance the “Amazon Experience”. So I think Om Malik was right, Amazon are very likely to open a high street store, it’s just not going to look or feel like stores as we know them today.

Do you think Amazon should open a physical store?

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  • Amazon really needs a place to showcase it’s products, not sell them. A place where you can look at all the different tablets out there and THEN make an educated decision.

    Because Amazon has such a successful brand, it’d need only 1-2 large scale “showcases” per major city to show off what they sell online. Like something and want it shipped to you? Use the Amazon app, scan a special tag, and boom, it’s at your house in 3-5 days. Less money spent on cashiers and more spent in knowledgeable reps. They would outright kill Best Buy in a few years.

  • Another hurdle for Amazon might be the plethora of sourcing points. They certainly do have a trustworthy and esteemable brand. It seems to me though that they also source from various sellers in various locations…. how this would play out in a brick and mortar scenario, I’m not sure.
    It would be interesting to know how much of what amazon sells, is actually produced by amazon. Too, it’s fun to consider what a digital download purchased f2f would be like?

  • Carl Joseph

    I would love to see a “book store” which shelves of virtual books. Maybe one physical copy of each, but an ability to just scan your thing next to the book you want to buy, drop by their cafe, have a flick through it and then when you’re ready to check out you actually purchase the books you decide on. 

    A nice mix of both options. You keep the serendipity of coming across things you wouldn’t know about otherwise, and the convenience/price of electronic media.

  • Charles

    I can see how such a store could be useful for Amazon, but I think the way they’ve cut ties with Affiliates in places like California shows they value being sales-tax free above all else, so if they were to open stores it would be only where they already have to pay up.

  • @dagamer34:disqus I absolutely agree, if you look at the Apple stores they don’t carry much stock, but Amazon could possibly get away with only having display stock of certain lines exactly as you describe.

  • @dd7b78dec84d4f9d6ef87ee3723c9769:disqus We need to move our thinking on from the physical product, it’s more about how a brand like Amazon could use a physical presence to enhance their Brand, connect more with it’s consumer base. Alternatively offer totally new services altogether.

  • @dd7b78dec84d4f9d6ef87ee3723c9769:disqus I think your idea is getting closer to it, an Amazon cafe where you can browse electronic books on borrowed Kindles?

  • @7b236be4f0334a8c4ffeb12c0901e101:disqus Undoubtedly sales tax is an issue for them in the US, but they could do a proof of concept in Europe, maybe?

  • Randy918

    This is ideal for airports, a no brainer.

  • @73c049db903dde64ad92d169f80314eb:disqus Well yes you’re right, Amazon outlets at International airports, great branding and a fantastic sales opportunity!