Here are my thoughts on Amazon’s initiative to open Brick-and-Mortar Stores as detailed in a recent article by The Fiscal Times.
I love Amazon because their breadth of products, services and price points they offer. I especially love Amazon prime. That is one of the services that has kept me loyal because of all the benefits associated with it. I think establishing physical bookstores is a great idea for Amazon. I do believe that Amazon is keeping its brand promise of striving “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company where people can find and discover virtually anything they want to buy online.” (http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-mediaKit.) I believe opening physical stores will provide another venue to Amazon customers to view, experience and ultimately purchase from Amazon. Physical bookstores will enhance the “customer-centric company.” It enhances the online experience by providing a physical location to view or purchase products which was not available before. I especially like the idea of using the physical stores as drop points/pick-up locations for customers who do not want items shipped to their home address for safety or a variety of reasons as Roman mentioned in above comment. I believe this will provide for better service for its customers when it comes to customer service. If they allow for these locations to be able to provide in-person customer service that is not currently available with their online stores, it would be an attractive feature to those who don’t want to wait for an electronic response or prefer to speak to a person in person. Where other stores began with physical locations, Amazon did not. But most of those stores who began with physical locations now have their products online to compete in the online retail space. Amazon began backwards in that sense. I suspect we may see more of that in the future; stores beginning online and eventually opening a physical retail space to enhance their online store and services.
I certainly see this as a game changer for Amazon. I do believe that Amazon investing in physical store fronts can eliminate competitors they target. Currently, they have such a large network and supply chain management, it is easy for them to compete for prices and products in whatever location or venue they so choose. But it would have to be targeted and strategic. The physical storefronts will not eliminate all competitors but it will encourage competitors to look at how they are doing business and adapt, in order to sustain and compete. Amazon has been mainly focused on digital spaces. I believe that diversifying into physical space is a competitive advantage that will benefit them in the long run and prove to be successful. I would encourage them to study what people buy in their stores or why they visit their stores to ensure that the stores are providing the products or services that their customers are seeking in person. If they are smart, I believe it will be more than a store front location. It will be a customer service center and drop off/pick up location amongst other creative services they can offer in their physical locations. Let’s see how Amazon will fare with new bookstores. I, for one, am looking forward to visiting one.