In 2003, founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos coined the word 'unstore' to describe what made Amazon unique. It's a philosophy he has run his business by over the last 20 years; limitless shelf space, always on, reviewable, and cheap. Seemingly no longer content with dominating online retail, Bezos has moved away from his founding philosophy to launch a physical store, just in time for Christmas. Situated in the heart of New York, the shop will let customers purchase Amazon branded products and take advantage of a same day click and collect service.
I'm just not feeling it. Although it might be a growing trend for online retailers to exploit the frenzied xmas market with a pop up presence on the high street, I just don't think Amazon can live up to its own expectations when it comes to the bricks and mortar store. Amazon has perfected the art of ecommerce, taking away the risk of buying stuff online, and making it seamless, accessible, and low priced. While it does ecommerce exceptionally well, retail experience it does not.
As Amazon has done for online, a store such as Selfridges has refined the art of the department store. The experience is just that - an experience. People flock to Selfridges, not just to shop but to socialise and be entertained, making Selfridges a place to be. Of course I shop online all the time, but I don't get excited by it in the same way I do when I see the lavish displays to celebrate Halloween or of course Christmas. It's sometimes just good to potter and be part of the store, be part of the experience of consuming.
Amazon's store as it stands is never going to excite me. Whilst the store will I'm sure bring the online retail giant some benefits, it just doesn't sit well with the Amazon brand - the 'unstore'. The store in New York ultimately will only be granting access to a smaller range of their products slightly sooner than they offer online - how is this better than what they are currently offering?
As bricks and mortar retail becomes more about the customer experience, it naturally follows that it is the brand stores that are delivering. Take Nike for example, or Apple. They both ensure that retail experience reflects the brand and all it stands for. Their product is their holy grail, and the stores focus on the product, not the cost. A cluttered store centred around bargains and money off will reduce the experience. Simple.
If Amazon was to build a store around its brand, it would be a store that is always open, has huge amount of product and is cheap. I just don't see how, on the basis of where Amazon is coming from; never having created a physical store before, never having built a brand beyond online, never having looked at the physical experience of the customer; they will be able to execute a store that will be any better, or any different to anyone else.
The store in New York has built the hype around Amazon once again, and in its twentieth year of trading, Amazon knows the best way to be talked about is by being forward thinking, just look at the announcement of the 30 minute delivery by drone.
Bezos is a smart guy. I mean really smart. He is an exceptional individual. With his intellect and business philosophy, if Bezos really did decided to take Amazon to the high street, then that store would also be exceptional. And it is at that point, and that point only, that retailers should take note.
Now? This store is about hype, not retail.