With Amazon’s recent move to open physical stores, how does this move fits into the larger trend of ‘slow retail’? Kevin Gill, UK CEO of Start looks at the growing demand of consumers for a more meaningful experience with brands, not just convenience.
From selling online electronics to creating its own electronics, from one-click purchases to the one-hour shipping, we’ve watched Amazon innovate at a rapid rate since launching in 1994.
They have made total convenience their core focus. There is no barrier now between its customers and its services. It slashes costs, it offers endless choice and it’s even created several owned product ranges. Win, win and win.
Yet, despite being “everyone’s everything” retailer, it still lacked one vital ingredient.
Until now that is.
Getting physical, going slow
Yes, the world’s best retailer is set to move its goal posts again, this time towards realising a “slow retail” model for customers. A response to the trend that’s moving more and more etailers into bricks-and-mortar spaces, Amazon has said it will open nearly 400 physical bookstores.
But why the slow down? After all, didn’t it just overtake Facebook with a market cap of $300 billion? And, more to the point, why now?
As it becomes crystal clear that new retail is slow retail, we believe that Amazon’s idea for a store is key in delivering against its purpose.
Amazon needs to build emotional engagement between its brand and its customer base.
Our overriding need for an easier life has created, what we call, fast retail. It’s a never-ending cycle of high consumer expectation fuelling retail innovation, which in turn, pushes our expectations for convenience even higher. A recipe best served online, by brands like Amazon. In a world where most things can be delivered within the hour by most people how do you differentiate and stay relevant to your audience?
As technology helps us get everyday shopping chores done, it means we have more time to spend enjoying ourselves. Shopping has long been an activity of leisure as much as one of convenience.
Going shopping therefore needs a new purpose today one which rewards us for spending our hard-won leisure time in store. And a new model: great physical experiences, underpinned with meaningful interactions built around purpose. All enabled through technology.
Retailers must slow in-store retail down with events that put the pleasure back in to shopping. Brands doing this reap the benefits of increased brand liking, improved customer loyalty and deeper connection, compelling customers to choose them over the competition.
New retail is slow retail
The great thing about Amazon’s slow bookstore model? No other retailer can compete with it. Waterstone’s and even Barnes & Noble, as successful as they are, will not have the same edge once Amazon finds its snail’s pace.
It was so successful online because it found a way to successfully sell everything. Once it localises a physical presence it localises everything. So, in the future, when Amazon sells a book in the bookstore, it actually sells a pathway into Amazon’s entire ecosystem. The more Amazon can build a meaningful physical expression of its purpose, the more it will enjoy effortless repeat purchase of anything from cloud storage, to book publishing and downloadable content.
Hopefully the ultimate marketplace will deliver the ultimate market for us to spend time in.
Dare to be the snail
Since mulling over the British Retail Consortium’s recent report – which predicts that over 70,000 UK stores will be forced to close in the next decade – we’ve been keen to demonstrate how stores can once more become the heartbeat of our high streets.
Slow models will grow to assist us with understanding complex product benefits, the need to validate our purchase decisions and a desire to engage in the experience economy and spend our time well. With slow retail stores, like Amazon’s bookstore, becoming more and more commonplace now, we predict that stores will either be reinvigorated or die.
The crux of this call is that convenience shopping, or fast retail, has created a surplus of time for people. Retailers must connect with people again by giving them brilliant ways to spend this time. In their store. In their experience. In their brand.
by Kevin Gill