Amazon has almost perfected a shopping experience for browsers — and I mean human, not web.
Four months after the first Amazon Books physical store opened in Seattle’s University Village, Amazon appears to be satisfied enough with the results to move forward with a second location in San Diego. But is the original just a novelty, attracting only nerdy tourists? Or does it work as a retail store for people who truly want to browse and buy?
From what I saw — and purchased — on my recent visit, Amazon has nailed what it takes to have a successful retail store in an e-commerce world. Any kind of retail store.
I’ve long been skeptical about the artificial separation between online and physical retailing.
. . . .
Since then, “showrooming” has become a dirty word in retail, reflecting customers who check out products in a store and then buy them cheaper, online. But Amazon has embraced this reality of consumer behavior and flipped it into a positive, matching price and adding the satisfying bonus of instant gratification.
Why does Amazon Books work, beyond the novelty of seeing the Amazon name IRL?
. . . .
Encourages browsing and serendipity. From the airy and wood-filled interior, to the long counters with seats by the windows and a good-sized children’s section with play table, Amazon Books feels like a traditional bookstore that wants customers to linger. The books, displayed face-out on both shelves and displays of varying height, make it easy to make a serendipitous discovery — something even Amazon’s online recommendation engine (which keeps offering me items related to gifts I bought for others) struggles to get right.
. . . .
Removes “better deal” fears. I was at first taken aback when I saw all books (including the one I had in hand) apparently at full, publishers’ list price. Until I saw the signs and scanners which assured me that whatever the price was on Amazon.com now would be the price I would pay in store. (Yes, I double-checked on my smartphone.) Since Amazon is constantly adjusting online prices, that provided both reassurance and a good reason to not have to sticker and re-sticker price tags on inventory.
. . . .
Leverages the e-commerce experience.Perhaps most important to customers used to a lame integration of offline and online shopping (“Give us your email address for discounts”), Amazon has taken what it’s learned on the web and reduced the friction between worlds. While browsing, you’re exposed to Amazon’s star ratings and review excerpts and encouraged to snap bar code images to read full reviews on Amazon.com. At the register, swiping a credit card tied to your Amazon.com account not only automatically triggers an emailed receipt, it puts the purchase in your online Amazon order history. Everything Amazon, in one place (conveniently or creepily).
Link to the rest at GeekWire and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.