Amazon Books. Physical store. Back to the future
Many successful online initiatives have been incorporated to a physical context with a traditional wooden atmosphere, excellent location, low merchandise density, and distilled assortment with the help of advanced sales analytics and customers ratings. Overall, it is a magnificent promotional tool for its PRIME service with substantial discounts in the selling price.
Two years after the opening of its first physical bookstore, Amazon is operating with fifteen selling points in experimental phase.
We have recently visited the two establishments located in New York, the last one in 34th Street, opened only 4 months ago.
Lower in- density store compared to its sector (3.000 options vs 5.000 in regular conditions), eases the display of a more clear and effective visual merchandising. Frontal presentation of the books and the area dedicated to divide each one of the titles provides aid in the search of what you are looking for.
The biggest innovation is the usage of the available online analytics to distil its huge assortment and be able to really offer the selection of more relevant books and with higher sales for the customers at the store. Among other criteria, Amazon apply the following:
- online customers’ ratings. For example, book segmentation with a rating higher than 4,8 – over 5 – with more than 10.000 opinions
- those books which customers have taken less than 3 days reading it completely in a mobile device, such as kindle
- titles with higher number of reservations and pre-sales to its effective launch
- books with higher acceptance level among online readers in the specific area where the store is located
- cross recommendation of a book for those interested in other based on online sales analytics
Specific opinions and comments made by other digital customers are displayed individually on store shelves providing genuine help among the readers
Books aren’t labelled individually with selling price because customers members of Prime service have succulent discounts, displayed in-store, above 25%. In practice, this duality of prices (Members / Non Prime members), converts the physical store in the best promotional machine of this service/subscription that is having so much success, and that Amazon encourages now with higher strength through monthly fees (10€) more affordable for new customer segments.
Children’s reading segment is over-dimensioned in a deliberate way to provide interaction possibilities which are not available online.
Besides books, Amazon offers in its stores an excellent display of digital reading devices, voiced personal assistants, digital services as music and tv. In short, an excellent opportunity to offer a showroom with interaction possibilities with the product and support of curated sales assistants.
Sale system is self-service with main support of digital devices and selective specialized staff maintaining in every case an environment of freedom of movement and action for store visitors.
Promotional activity is a reflection of what they have online and take advantage of the seasonality of each moment to make the product more relevant for the customer. For example; selection of titles of physical training as part of the promises and good wishes for the beginning of the year.
For purchase and payment of the products customers both the conventional ways and the Amazon own app can be used, having full integration between physical and digital channels.
In short, we can identify a fusion of digital initiatives, innovative in the world of physical bookstores, inside a wooden environment and traditional design including a little coffee area that brings into customers mind other stores of conventional chains, such as Barnes & Noble that have suffered the digital transformation in this sector.
We are facing a business model with great advances of digital integration and keeping relevant and conventional aspects of a bookstore. The fact that Amazon only has 15 stores (in two years) claims that Amazon Books will continue to evolve before proceeding to its potential expansion. It will be an authentic Back to the Future.
MHE, retail consultancy, works for brands and retail chains in strategy and operations in omnichannel environment.
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