Traditional retailers are having a tough time on the high streets currently.
With consumer spending down, both in the US & UK due to the continued economic downturn.
In testament to this decline, and rather ironically, Rackspace occupies what was a shopping mall in San Antonio, Texas; hosting the websites of many online retailers who are seeing their businesses grow.
Don’t Call Me a TWiT
Om Malik was lambasted by his co-presenters on last weeks TWiT, hosted by Leo Laporte, with Robert Scoble, and Justin Robert Young for suggesting Amazon would open a physical store.
He couldn’t get them to understand where he was coming from, but I saw what he was getting at.
Others on the show continued to think from a traditional perspective, of Amazon selling product. With comparisons to Best Buy and Apple, demonstrating their closeted view. Leo saying that ordering online, was likely to see the end of all but the most undeliverable of goods in stores. Whilst, in fact Om had hit on something quite fundamental.
Birds of a Feather
By nature humans are social animals, tribal even, however much time we like to spend online, we still like to meet face to face. This can be highlighted by the popularity of TweetUps, Social Media Clubs, LinkedIn Meet Ups and location based apps such as Foursquare.
For all of our online networking some of the best networking we do is face to face. Seth Godin actively encourages Linchpin types to meet up a couple of times a year. The Start Up Weekend organisation gets like minded individuals together for a whole weekend to start brand new companies.
So, if getting together is so popular and part of our nature, doesn’t it make sense that we would go to a physical Amazon store to meet others like us? Now this store may not sell product, or it may have limited lines.
The Apple store is all about the “Apple experience”. Full of young adults and kids getting in the habit of using Apples latest technology with no intention to purchase, even if they had the money. No, these future business owners, programmers, web designers, artists, musicians, and physicians are being schooled in the joys of the Apple brand.
When it comes time for them to suggest what equipment the company should buy or what tablet device to get their kids, Apple already has it’s foot in the door.
The Social Shop
If Apple can do this, why not Amazon? If they can find a way to indoctrinate the youth of today whilst supporting the existing loyal Amazon customer, through a physical social store, their future is all but certain. Maybe a place for book club meet ups, musician jamming sessions, easy returns of large goods or technical support. A place to present up coming products or try out a Kindle.
I am sure minds better than mine can come up with hundreds of ways Amazon could use a physical store to enhance the “Amazon Experience”. So I think Om Malik was right, Amazon are very likely to open a high street store, it’s just not going to look or feel like stores as we know them today.
Do you think Amazon should open a physical store?