Forget offline vs online. The big word in retail is hybrid
If you want proof, look no further than Amazon, which last week opened the doors to the first Amazon 4-star store outside of the US. Situated in Bluewater, this offers a range of products that are rated four stars and above, are top sellers, or are trending on Amazon’s UK site, including consumer electronics, toys, games, books, kitchen, and home. Customers can purchase online and collect orders at the store as soon as the next day. It also offers parcel free, label free returns for items purchased both in store and online. Digital price tags are located alongside each product with the item price, average star rating, and the number of customer reviews. Amazon account holders will pay the price as they would on the UK site. Prime members will receive exclusive perks and deals throughout the store.
Andy Jones, Director, Amazon 4-star, UK, says: “Every part of the store is designed with our customers in mind and we think they will be delighted by the curated selection of the most loved products at great prices, opportunity to test drive Amazon’s latest devices, and the convenience of pickup and returns.”
“Give them a reason to keep returning”
Amazon is well known for pushing retail boundaries, but even it can go further, according to Florence Wright, Senior Retail Insight Analyst at Edge by Ascential.
“There is no doubt that an Amazon store will be geared up with the latest technology to create a frictionless experience, but there are other key characteristics it should consider to create a store of the future model, so that the in-store experience is exciting for consumers,” she comments.
“This includes experiential elements to educate and inspire, through to creating a social element to foster connections with shoppers and give them a reason to keep returning.”
The bricks and mortar retail apocalypse is a myth pushed by people with skin in the e-commerce game. Yes, online sales have soared during the coronavirus outbreak and many physical retailers have struggled. The genie is out of the bottle, and it is unlikely to go back in. But the end is most certainly not nigh for physical players. Rather, the role of the store has changed, as recent Mercaux research highlights.
Last word to Olga Kotsur, CEO and Co-Founder, Mercaux: “Consumer interest and demand for a more integrated shopping experience is here.”
“Retailers need to meet this need and quickly - very few can afford to wait for lengthy back-end systems to be built before embarking on digital transformation projects.”
“Hesitating could be considerably damaging to their growth potential.”
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