Amazon has shown interest in branching out from its traditional playground of online sales into areas previously occupied by traditional retailers.
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Furniture And More
For Amazon not all ideas become reality, so the fact the company is considering a number of bricks and mortar options does not mean they will all actually happen.
Among ideas being discussed, stores to sell furniture and home appliances such as stoves and refrigerators. In other words, big ticket items people like to see and touch before they buy. Even then, stores would be showcases where you could view items in person. Orders would still be shipped to your home.
Virtual Reality For Real
One unique concept being considered by Amazon is the use of augmented or virtual reality in stores that sell large or bulky items. This would allow you – in theory – to see how a sofa, stove or bedroom set would look in your home.
There’s also been talk of Amazon using VR as a way of marketing clothing online – to allow you to see how you look in a particular outfit for example. An Amazon clothing store designed to compete with Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:MC) or J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE:JCPC) could use sophisticated VR technology as well.
Look Out Apple!
Amazon has also toyed with the idea of a bricks and mortar electronics store similar to Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPLB) high-tech retail outlets. The emphasis would be on Amazon devices including Kindle tablets, Echo smart home speakers and services like Prime.
Apple has shown that a single-brand electronics store is not only possible, it can be profitable. To that end the company recently opened new boutique stores in Nanjing, Cologne and Miami. News reports indicated would-be customers stood (or camped) in line days in advance of each store’s opening.
In the grocery category Amazon seems to be trying a multitude of approaches in something of a “throw ideas at a wall and see what sticks” approach. The effort includes convenience stores that do not need cashiers as well as stores where customers can place orders online then jump in the car and drive to a location to pick up their groceries.
Another use for drive-up stores could be to serve as a hub for home delivery to customers who do not have transportation or would rather not drive to the store. The grocery store concept could be especially lucrative in India where people are accustomed to going to a street bazaar to shop at booths where they haggle and bargain.
Basic Goals And PhilosophyBehind all things Amazon are some very basic goals including putting the customer and her experience first. That goal includes the use of automation where possible which translates to fewer employees and more robots. It also translates to faster service in many cases.
Keeping bricks and mortar locations close to customer homes is also important, especially for segments like groceries where ‘fresh’ is part of the mantra. This also helps promote an important goal of delivery in hours as opposed to days.