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Amazon Style as Brick ‘n’ Mortar

A new shopping experience? Really?

Amazon Style storefront singage

On a recent visit to California, I happened into an Amazon Style retail store at the Glendale Americana, a large shopping, dining, entertainment, and residential complex. It was the Apple store that brought me to the site but could not resist seeing what Bezos and company were trying this time. 

Retail sales increased 8.4% on a year-on-year basis and are 18% above their pre-pandemic trend; but that left out clothing retailers where sales were down*. 

After visiting Whole Foods and experiencing a watered-down food shopping experience (as compared to pre-Amazon ownership), I wanted to see if they had learned something about what brand experience is about. In this case there is no previous apparel store by Amazon to compare. So, it seemed fair to use every other store in the same center.

Style Interior

First it is light and airy. Nice. No blasting music trying to raise the emotional levels and encourage impulse buys. Nice again. It was well lighted, spacious aisles and easy to understand sections:   two-thirds women’s and one third men’s, plus other things. Acceptable ratio methinks. Samples were well displayed on hangers, easy to touch, along with the occasional mannequin. Many brands were offered. If you had an interest, simply use the app, scan the QR code, select your favorites, indicate size. You are then assigned a dressing room, usually within minutes..

Dressing Rooms

The dressing rooms have two or three attendants whose duties consist of pointing to where the room for you is. Inside the room your selected clothes are already on a hanger in a closet. A large touch screen personally greets you and has the selections displayed. If you find something does not fit, simply indicate ‘NO’ or ask for a different size. Next to the closet is a door. When a small light is on, the newly ordered selections are available for you. Of course, the screen has suggestions of other items that might go with what you have selected.

Ultimately the experience is an online ecommerce store with the in-person brick ‘n’ mortar twist.

Style App

Assessing the experience is easy. First, compare it to an online environment. It is immediate and you have the clothes. Even same day or next day delivery can’t match that. That’s a positive, but frankly not much different than shopping at Nordstrom’s. The difference here is that Nordstrom has experienced salespeople making the suggestions based on meeting you, asking questions and applying a seasoned sense of style. Not quite the same as an algorithm dressing you.

Checkout

Second point of comparison is to the essential in-store retail experience. In this case we will compare to the Apple Store, my original purpose for being in the Americana. 

The people at Amazon Style had minimalized roles, and thereby minimal contributions to the shopping experience. In an Apple store, any Apple Store, the people are knowledgeable, courteous, and have additional resources at the Genius Bar and online. In this comparison, Amazon fails at an epic level. Add parking the car and Amazon is simply missing the point of in-store shopping. Apple is worth the trip; Amazon Style is not. 

 The value to Amazon seems more like a controlled study, a focus group experiment that will yield some ‘medium’ sized data they can use online or resell to the retail industry. As for the overall shopping experience, MEH!

* tinyurl.com/2p8msudf

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Ingi Karlsson

CEO/Founder

Interesting experiment. Just between shopping online and onsite. But I agree. I like knowledgeable sales reps of flesh and blood that will answer even the most idiotic questions I might have with a smile.

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