Amazon may not be the biggest company in the world, but they’re arguably the most recognized brand name. As the world’s largest e-commerce company, forward-thinking has always been one of their tenets. Yet, moving forward, the company seems to be finding inspiration in more traditional modes of business. Next week finds them opening the doors of their first fashion-oriented brick-and-mortar store, Amazon Style, in the trendy Americana shopping center in Glendale, California. It may seem like a strange move for a company that built their empire on home shoppers. And while the e-commerce giant isn’t abandoning the model that made them such a colossus, there’s a method to this brick-and-mortar madness.
The Brick-and-Mortar Store Offers Access to a Unique Market
Amazon Style isn’t Amazon’s first foray into physical shopping experiences. In fact, they just announced a couple months ago that they’d be shuttering some of their earlier brick-and-mortar store locations, including book stores, mall kiosks, and “Amazon 4-Star” shops. But Amazon Style isn’t the only indicator that they still see worth in a traditional shopping experience. They’re still banking a lot on their Fresh grocery stores and other physical shopping efforts. But why would a company who’s bread-and-butter is e-commerce choose to invest in the very model that they’d threatened to make obsolete? Perhaps because the brick-and-mortar store will never be truly obsolete… at least not in our lifetime.
Physical Stores Underscore Limitations of E-Commerce
Have you visited a brick-and-mortar store in the last week? We’re certain most of you answered “yes” despite the conveniences of online shopping. If you were to try to exclusively shop online for a full year, it would feel like an endurance challenge. Why? Because there are just some commodities that demand a physical experience. Take groceries for example. Can you purchase fresh produce online? Sure. Do most of us do it? No. We want to sift through what’s on offer and make sure that we’re getting the best that we can.
We’ve already seen Amazon bank on the physical aspects of grocery shopping with their $13.4-billion acquisition of Wholefoods and the establishment of their own Amazon Fresh chain. Amazon Style finds them exploring another industry with online limitations: fashion. Even when you know your size, shopping for clothing online is a gamble. Many shoppers would rather bypass the hassle of trial-and-error shopping and drawn-out returns. It’s important for shoppers to see and feel their prospective purchase and the best way to do both is to try clothing on. Investing in a brick-and-mortar store for Amazon’s serious entry into fashion retail allows access to a revenue stream with which the online shopping experience can’t compete.
Amazon Innovation Gets Physical
In true Amazon fashion, Amazon Style aims to redefine what we’ve come to expect from the physical shopping experience. The 30,000-square foot brick-and-mortar store will be a massive showroom of popular brands and carefully curated fashions. Customers will be prompted to use QR codes to choose their size, color, and any other potential variants from the display model. The requested product will then be available for pickup at the counter where it can be tried on in the shop’s accommodating dressing rooms. Amazon is also incorporating touch-free methods of payment, which will lead to an overall more streamlined physical shopping experience.
Further Benefits of a Physical Brick-and-Mortar Shop
Amazon will likely enjoy some other benefits through expanding into physical locations. As they open more brick-and-mortar store locations, they will likely see a reduction in their exorbitant shipping expenses. Amazon is expected to begin using its physical shops as stations where customers can pick up their orders.
Then, there’s the added benefit of impulse shopping. This exists in some form with online shopping, but it’s another level in a brick-and-mortar store. Amazon has an ideal platform for showcasing gadgets in an immersive environment in ways that may not translate over a screen. The physical field still provides an unparalleled environment for immersive interaction.
Branching Out in Style
Will Amazon Style be a success? The tech company is certainly confident it will with plans moving full speed ahead despite the closing of less successful attempts at a brick-and-mortar store experience. When Amazon Style opens its doors on Wednesday, it’s just another step that Amazon’s taking to snaring a market that e-commerce has yet to thoroughly grasp. Regardless of how this new venture fares, it points to a larger truth: brick-and-mortar shops aren’t going anywhere.