How Amazon would run your brick-and-mortar store

I recently got an interesting question: if Amazon would build my store, how would they do it? There’s been a lot of speculation on the possible opening of Amazon stores to cut down delivery times and give shoppers the ability to experience the brand.

Much of the new innovations that Amazon would bring to brick-and-mortar are still based on rumors or patents where (short-term) feasibility is questionable. There are some general concepts, however, that made Amazon.com so successful and they’d certainly bring those to their brick-and-mortar stores as well. Two of the key success factors are customer insights and customer experience, or shopability.

Customer insights

Amazon knows ten times more about their customers than the average brick-and-mortar retailer. Think of the customized suggestions; e-mails with discounts specially selected for you, delivered at the right time; and a price that’s just about what you wanted to pay.

But with the next generation of retail analytics tools, these customer insights are becoming more and more of a reality for brick-and-mortar retailers every day. Actually, one of the reasons that Amazon is opening physical locations is exactly because it wants to gain even deeper customer insights that can’t be gathered online.

Retailers that already have both a widespread physical and online presence should take advantage of this and focus on matching offline efforts with those made online, in terms of analytics. Together, they can form even stronger insights. This is certainly what Amazon would do.

Shopability and customer experience

We are all about shopability. Collecting data for the sake of collecting data is useless. Rather, it’s about gaining actionable insights and using that to improve the customer experience and creating a shopable store. This means a store with high quality staff and a frictionless experience. Especially in the latter, Amazon.com is highly specialized. It’s so easy. Every purchase is only a few clicks away. There are no issues with finding the item in a cluttered store, out of stocks or long queues.

There are certain benefits to online that can’t be replicated offline, such as home delivery. The benefits of brick-and-mortar, such as staff and store experience and the ability to touch products, can however outweigh those. But stores have to make sure that all of the frictions in the store are taken away, just like online or even better than online.

A frictionless shopping experience

For instance, online we type something in a search bar, but this doesn’t always work perfectly. You might describe the product in a way that the computer doesn’t recognize. When describing it to competent sales staff, however, they will certainly understand you even without using the exact right wording and they can point you in the right direction.

The long queues, another point of frustration, is also something that can be solved. Using queue analytics retailers can detect where they need to put mobile checkouts or more cash desks and staff.

Or, if it’s up to Amazon, we’ll all be walking out of the store without even standing in line for a second and we won’t even pay. How? Every shopper is linked to their online Amazon profile through image recognition, cameras and chips track what products are taken from the shelves and payment will follow through the account. That will obviously eliminate queues completely, but will probably still be a few years away from us, not even taking the legal limitations into account.

Not being able to find a product or long queues, are just examples of possible pain points, but using the right store analytics tools, it’s easy to detect what the pain points in the store are and what should be optimized, similar to how we optimize every part of the online customer journey.

With all of the possibilities that physical retailers have nowadays, in terms of retail analytics, it is possible to learn from online retailers as Amazon and take some of its strongest assets to the physical world.

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