How Amazon Is Expanding Brick and Mortar Presence

October 18, 2017

E-commerce giant Amazon doesn't think brick and mortar retailing is dead, and has been slowly growing a fleet of physical stores. While the company's acquisition of Whole Foods has grabbed headlines, the company's physical footprint has reached beyond grocery sales and these efforts could dramatically shape how retail operates in the very near future.



Campus Pick-up Point


In 2015 Amazon opened its first two Campus Pick-up Point locations, small Amazon storefronts located on or near college campuses. Here students can pick up books, school supplies or food ordered online either through interfacing with customer service counters or a self-service locker that can be opened using a security code.



Image: Amazon


According to The Wall Street Journal, these Campus Pick-up Point locations are part of a broader entry into the college market which includes co-branded university bookstore websites for selling textbooks- with schools getting a cut of all sales made through their co-branded Amazon website. The company sees tremendous value in this market where competitor Barnes & Noble’s college sales division reports over $1.75 billion in annual revenue.



Image: Christina DeMarzo/Daily Nexus


As is the case with all Amazon physical store interfaces to date, the Campus Pick-up Point storefronts also include an area where customers can interact with (and purchase) Amazon electronic devices like the Kindle, Fire and Echo lines.

The company offers a dedicated Prime membership program for college students called Amazon Prime Student. The first six months of the program costs nothing, and member fees are reduced 50% from normal Amazon Prime subscription rates thereafter. While non-Prime members can utilize Campus Pick-up Point services, Student and Prime members receive free same-day pickup on up to two million items ordered through Amazon.com. The company now operates these locations at or near 27 college campuses from coast to coast. The average store size is around 3,500 square feet.

Treasure Truck



Image: M Field / Modern Cities


Amazon's Treasure Trucks hawk everything from GoPros to poke bowls and Harry Potter books. The company began experimenting with its new Treasure Truck all over Seattle popping up in a location, alerting followers as to its destination and selling one curated and heavily-discounted item until the day's bounty was sold out. Past offerings have sold oysters, steaks, Dungeness crab, Polaroid cameras, flat screen tvs, headphones and even Star Wars toys. Some Treasure Truck experiences even include live music, pumpkin carvings, free candy and even celebrity appearances.



Image: Amazon


Treasure Truck, is now popping up in select cities across the country where up to two dozen cities will be hosting their own permanent(ish) Treasure Truck. The catch is of course, that you won't know where or when they'll pop up, so customers will need to digitally log on to the Amazon app to be able to plug into this cerebral analog experience.
 

Amazon Go


Based loosely on the company’s success with the Campus Pick-up Point format, the company recently opened its first beta version of its most ambitious concept: Amazon Go.

Amazon Go is a souped-up convenience store where customers can simply take what they want and walk out the door. It’s the world’s first no cash, no check-outs, no waiting-in-line, grab-and-go shopping experience.



Image: M Field / Modern Cities


Relying on the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars, the store is fitted with a series of high-tech computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning sensors that detect when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When customers are finished shopping, they just leave the store with merchandise in hand and their Amazon account is automatically charged for the items that have left the store. All that is needed is an Amazon account and a supported smartphone loaded with the Amazon Go app.

Inside this 1,800 square foot store, shoppers will find typical convenience store hard goods and groceries like bread, milk, artisan cheeses and the like. Amazon Go also offers popular cook-at-home Amazon Meal Kits. But where Amazon believes they’ll drive the most foot traffic is through their on-site kitchen where chefs prepare ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options.



Image: M Field / Modern Cities


Jim Lister, an account manager with Ape Creative, believes that the Amazon Go experience could fundamentally change the retail shopping experience due to the amount of data Amazon can compile on shoppers habits and movements. “With this advanced tracking info, Amazon Go will have the most accurate and detailed customer purchasing information yet,” remarks Lister. “This new data could bring significant insight and improvement to the customer shopping journey and our purchasing habits. Amazon will know how long you linger by the cake section and how quickly you pick up a bottle of wine. They’ll be able to see if you like creamy pasta with garlic bread or salad and what day of the week you like to eat it.”

NEXT: Amazon finds unlikely partners in the commercial real estate sector

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