With the news that Amazon is set to open 400 book stores in the US, some could say it’s taking the ‘old fashioned’ route to retail that it had originally disrupted.
What are the drivers? One word: leisure.
While convenience has become a modern shopping fixation - with brands feeding it constantly, creating new and smarter ways to make doing the shopping easier and faster - there’s now an excruciatingly high expectation on what convenience should be.
And yet if brands want to survive the next wave of the retail evolution, shopping experiences can’t just get easier. They must get better. They must become leisure experiences. Stores must become destinations in their own right.
The domination of digital interactions - such as how convenient shopping with Amazon online is - are actually starting to drive us to go seek tangible, enjoyable, physical experiences instead. As a result, people are looking for new, ever more stimulating and social ways to extract value from brands like Amazon.
More than selling
Amazon is proving that despite the importance of mobile devices to customers, physical stores are able to win back appeal by enabling customers to experience products in totally new ways.
Retail no longer exists simply to sell products. Getting people to ‘go shopping’ with a brand by providing fun and galvanising experiences in store is the best way for retailers to find meaningful differentiation today. The better the experience, the more likely it is that people will spend time and money with them.
It means that new retail isn’t fast retail at all – it has to become slow.
It means we can enjoy the mindset of ‘spending time’, rather than saving it.
‘Doing’ versus ‘going’ shopping
‘Going shopping’ depicts that retail and leisure are becoming increasingly indistinct in the eyes of consumers. Shopping needs to compete with other leisure activities in our lives. Entertainment, education, social interaction – retailers need to deliver an engaging experience that people can’t get elsewhere.
The pressure is mounting for brands to create retail experiences that gets people visiting them – experiences that are coherent with the more indulgent way we want to spend our free time.
But as Amazon proves, brands are fast stepping up to the plate, with research showing over 40% of small online businesses are now seeking space in a store.
In the minds of millions, shopping will always come down to two things: convenience and leisure. The test for Amazon now is, how to make ‘doing shopping’ even more convenient, and ‘going shopping’ even more enjoyable within one tech-rich, Internet-wired and experience-led physical retail space.