AFD News: Amazon to open brick-and-mortar department store

AFD News: Amazon to open brick-and-mortar department store

April 1, 2017 (AFD News)

Amazon (AMZN) is continuing its move into the physical retail space, after “Amazon Books” (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) and (the yet to open to the public) “Amazon Go” (at AmazonSmile*). The newest venture is called simply, “Amazon Store”, and parallels a traditional department store.

Traditional, though, this is not.

Ironically, this “store” doesn’t store anything…there is no stockroom. Everything is on display.

Customers can pick up items (the one thing missing in Amazon’s online experience), try clothes on, and test out games and electronics. In fact, they’ll find that it is much more interactive than most shopping experiences: the game boxes are open, they can actually play a videogame while sitting on a couch, or try a frying pan in a working kitchen.

What happens if the customer does want to buy something?

Most commonly, they will have the item sent directly to their homes (or perhaps to an Amazon Locker location). In many cases, it will be waiting for them when they get there. If the customer wants the product right now, it can be delivered by drone (either aerial or ground transport, dispatched from a nearby Amazon fulfillment center) to a convenient pick up location in the parking lot, or for Prime members, directly to the trunk where a human being will help them load it (Amazon pioneered “trunkside” delivery with its recently announced AmazonFresh Pickup service).

Interestingly, that may have been the only human being they will see during their entire “Amazon Store” experience.

The store itself is “staffed” by a combination of robots and Alexa-voice enabled devices (in the latter case, some are visible and some are not). One Amazon staffer told me that it is referred to as the “KivAlexa” team, being a combination of Amazon’s Kiva robots and the Alexa Voice Service.

A shopper need only say, “Alexa, where are the children’s shoes?” to hear an answer…and a robot can lead them there. If a customer has a mobility issue, or just prefers to stay in the sumptuous lobby area (complete with child’s play zone), the Kiva robot can bring a product to them.

Screens scattered throughout the store, and near each product area, will show customer ratings, reviews, and questions and answers. In the coming months, the same information will appear in the Amazon shopping app…automatically, if you point your phone at a product (thanks to Firefly visual recognition technology first shown in Amazon’s now discontinued Fire phone).

There may be times when you really want to speak with a person. There are employees referred to as “Counselors”. A customer need only ask, and one will appear. From what we saw in the demonstration, the only indicator that they were Amazon employees was a discrete identity badge, and the individual representative’s picture had appeared on our phones, allowing complete security.

Speaking of security, Amazon assures us that standard womb-issued guards are onsite if needed, in addition to artificial intelligence monitoring.

The first store is due to open this summer near the small town of North Redwood, Minnesota. With a population of about 5,000, it might seem an odd choice. North Redwood is the Redwood County seat, and is on Highway 71 (with access from Highways 19 and 67). Additionally, Amazon must be aware of the fact (although it’s not mentioned in the materials) it was where Richard Warren Sears was working when he took the first steps towards establishing the Sears department store chain.

Is it possible that we are looking at as revolutionary a change in retailing? Probably not…since there isn’t an “Amazon Store”! April Fool! 😉

This is a work of (somewhat subtle, I admit) humor, ILMK’s annual April Fool’s Day post (it may not have been April 1st where you are when it was published, but it was for some of my readers).

 That said, I do think this is a potential near future scenario…I haven’t suggested anything here that is outside of the realm of existing trends.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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15 Responses to “AFD News: Amazon to open brick-and-mortar department store”

  1. Philip E. Jackson Says:

    Got me, big time!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Philip!

      🙂 I would say it was my most believable April Fool’s Day entry so far…

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    You got me, too, until about halfway through. The next to last remaining big department store in my local mall closed in January. Sears is still hanging on by a thread, but I think it will be gone soon as well. I was thinking this would be a great thing to fill that huge space in the nearly dead mall.

    ::::::::Sigh::::::::

    Perhaps we’ll see it someday in the future, maybe in the Promenade on DS9.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      Yeah, Sears is having problems…that’s why I wanted to allude to it in my piece. I think we will see a lot more of Amazon in the brick-and-mortar retail space…but not quite like this. 🙂 Disney already is doing some pretty advanced stuff digitally…although Carnival’s new tech may have them beat.

      https://www.wired.com/2017/01/carnival-ocean-medallion-wearable/

      Love Disney, by the way!

      • Lady Galaxy Says:

        I’ve been a subscriber to your blog for a long time, and I must say this is your best April 1 edition so far. Maybe you should forward this on to Amazon R&D for evaluation. Would we have ever had the flip phone without first having had the ST communicator?

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Lady!

        Great to hear that! I was concerned it was too subtle, honestly. Well, my understanding is that at least some people at Amazon read my blog…probably not like the listen to Len Edgerly 😉 but some.

        As to your question, the answer is not like we have now. As I understand it, Martin Cooper was directly inspired by Star Trek in innovating the mobile phone…even though that wasn’t a flip phone. I’d have to verify it, but what I recall was that he was watching Star Trek first run when the phone rang in the other room. There wasn’t a way to pause a TV or record it to see it later, so he had to miss part of the show…which was the eventual inspiration.

  3. Johanna Horton Says:

    Magnificent!

  4. Lynn P Says:

    What are the odds that I live 10 miles from Redwood Falls so I knew at that point it was April Fool’s!! 🙂 Good one!!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lynn!

      Interesting! Did I describe it reasonably accurately? Is the Sears connection a big part of local lore?

  5. alanchurch Says:

    I figured it was probably a spoof because of the date and knew it at “frying an egg in a working kitchen”. Yeah, right. Good piece but I I’m a lot harder to fool than a few years ago. I’m a devotee of quack watch.org and slopes.com.

  6. alanchurch Says:

    That’s slopes.com

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, alanchurch!

      I’m guessing you a victim of autocorrect here, and you mean Snopes.com, which I agree is a wonderful site!

      Hm…am I trying to fool people with these? Not exactly…it’s more like Halloween to me. I don’t expect people to think I’m Dracula if I’m dressed like Dracula on Halloween. It’s allowed that day, and it lets me be sillier like this on April Fool’s Day…I also used a gender specific pronoun, which I wouldn’t normally do, of course. I was treating it as though someone else was writing it. 🙂

  7. escapeamazon.com Says:

    This will kill Amazon I think http://www.escapeamazon.com

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, escapeamazon!

      In the future, and I’ve said this to other people, you should identify yourself as associated with a link you give, when you do that. Your link is to “escapeamazon”, and that’s also your screen name, so I assume you are part of it.

      When someone doesn’t identify themselves in that way, it seems disingenuous, as though they want people to think the recommendation is independent.

      Please feel free to clarify if you are independent and just chose the screenname as…a tribute.

      That said, I don’t mind posting something which is anti-Amazon. I have glanced at the site to which you link. I’ll look at it more thoroughly at some point.

      I would be surprised at anything “killing Amazon”, outside of their own (not currently known) actions. They are routinely very highly rated in Customer Service, and while not everyone (seller or buyer) likes Amazon, there seem to be sufficient numbers to keep them in business. I think Amazon would have to make some really big mistakes (which I consider unlikely in the current configuration) to significantly drive away their highly-invested (monetarily and often emotionally) customers.

      I do find it interesting that two out of three of the ads I’m seeing on the homepage of that site are for Comixology…which is owned by Amazon. 🙂 If the site owner isn’t selecting the ads (which is entirely possible) it could be that Google or whoever placed the ads simply connected that there is “Amazon” in the site name with Amazon customers, perhaps algorithmically…

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