Amazon is a word that has become synonym to “Books”. You think of a book, and you find it on Amazon!!
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More than 2 decades ago in 1994, Amazon started off its journey as a full-fledged internet-based retailer concentrating on books and later diversifying to electronics, software, games, apparel, furniture, fashion, food and what not…
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We are all familiar with the Amazon logo – very well crafted, well sized letters a-m-a-z-o-n with a subtle yellow smile, but not many can make out on initial viewing is that the yellow smile is also an arrow that connects a and z, signifying A-to-Z coverage of products – selling everything with a smile!!
This shows how Amazon is leaving no stone unturned towards its customer service.
Amazon has now pulled off a “strategy reversal” by opening a physical brick-and-mortar book store, first in Seattle’s University Village since it is a top market for readers and close to the company’s headquarters.
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There is surely a strong reason behind the company’s claim that Amazon Books is a “physical extension” of its online presence – amazon.com
These are the salient features of the physical store –
Aesthetics of the books :
The very first thing we notice in the Amazon Books store is that the books are placed as “cover-out” so that the customers are able to see the visually appealing cover images at first sight. Usually, the books in all other book stores are placed in a traditional vertical “spine-out” fashion wherein the customers can see only the title of the book printed on the spine.
“One of the tenets we started with was that we wanted books to be the hero of the store. And they call to you when they are faced outward.” – Cast told GeekWire
Criterion for stocking books :
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All those books having high star ratings (above 4), good sales, heavy pre-orders find their place in the Amazon Books stores. The books are sorted based on their genre as well.
Store Price = Online Price :
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The prices of the books in the physical store are in resonance with the prices seen in the website. In the physical store, there are reminders saying the same. In addition to this, customers can also scan the barcodes from their smartphones then and there to verify the up-to-date price.
The Credits available for customers on their amazon accounts can also be used in the physical store for purchases.
Customer Reviews :
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One striking feature of the Amazon physical bookstore is that specific customer review cards are placed against the relevant books. This will help the newbies to get a fair understanding of the popularity of the book.
Section based on user habits :
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Amazon physical store also has a section which stocks books based on the shopping habits of the customers on its online parent. “Most-Wished-For”, “Award Winners” etc are some of the eye-catchy categories.
The Checkout Counter :
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Behind the checkout counter, Amazon Books displays all those books that have been popular that week. So, even if a customer forgets a popular book, the checkout counter reminds them (and probably MAKES the customer to make-the-purchase!! ;-))
The Tech Side :
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Adding to the paper-based books, Amazon Books also has a “Tech” orientation to it; there are stations for e-readers and tech-geeks as well – which enables the customers to interact with Kindles, Fire tablets, Fire TVs, the Echo etc.
Any other future products/gadgets that Amazon may launch will find its presence in the physical store as well without any time lag!!
Now that we have been acquainted with the physical store, we can easily guess that the company is utilizing the user data from the website to nurture its physical store. However, it’s not just based on data!!
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(Jennifer Cast, VP of Amazon Books, in the Amazon Books physical store)
“It’s data with heart, we are taking the data we have and we are creating physical places with it”, Cast told The Seattle Times.
Has it become absolutely necessary for an e-commerce company to mark its presence in the physical world too??
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Let’s have a look at some generic factors that influence the decision for online-offline collaboration of retail industry –
Brand Presence – Catching the public eye 24*7 :
This is probably the most important reason why online retailers may move towards their physical presence. The physical presence of an online retailer will make sure it is always in the public eye and this would target the only-offline customers as well, thereby spanning across a wide range of public – from lower middle class who cannot afford internet to the top bracket people.
There is no discrimination in the prices of products as well.
No more “Store Price > Online Price”!!
Online-Offline concurrence :
Excited Customers can research a product online and go to the physical store and make the purchase that day itself. No need to wait for online-shipping of the product.
Vice-versa, customers can look a product up in the physical store and order it online, maybe for their loved ones as a gift, or maybe just for themselves.
Just as Amazon Books, personalized categories in the physical stores sort the books and reduce time and compact the very wide scope of options for the customers to choose from.
There are majority of customers who want to first feel and try the product and then decide upon having it ordered.
Trust Issues :
Some people are also skeptical (though just at first) of the security of the online transactions and prefer the physical purchase instead.
Thus, having a physical store of the same e-tailer will not lose its customers and eventually, its profits!!
Total Dominance :
All the above points merged into this big one reason – Total Dominance!!
Even though the offline retailers are feeling the heat of the online market, it will be imperative for the e-tailers to join hands with offliners to assert Total Retail Dominance!!
Thus, for retailers to be profitable and consumer-favorites, now is the time for e-tailers and off-tailers to shake hands – Be Physical. Tie-Up. Merge. Jointly Venture.
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Not even online-offline collaboration, the throne of retail industry will be under the wings of those whose presence is felt everywhere – An omni-channel retailer!!
The following video highlights the importance of online and offline businesses to co-exist, delivered by Vikram Chopra, Co-founder and CEO, FabFurnish.com and an IIT-B alumnus.