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.
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* 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.