Amazon, America’s literary distribution behemoth, has expanded it’s power into previously uncharted territory by building their first brick-and-mortar store. Beverly Bell, a customer of this new establishment, pointed out the irony in this. The big question is what does this mean for the future? Amazon claims not to know themselves, but an innovative and competitive company does not make business moves blindly, and I don’t think they are being entirely forthright.
Amazon’s industry has been online shopping for as long as we can remember. So, it is a curious thing to see them open a store. Undoubtedly, this move is a tactical strategy at the ideal time, seeing as they have effectively weakened the market to the point that even Barnes and Noble is struggling, and the setting is ripe for Amazon to launch an experimental campaign.
Amazon already has several advantages by opening up a brick-and-mortar. Free publicity, brand recognition- and it helps that they already command 1/3 of print book sales and 2/3 of e-book sales in America. They opened this store on Purdue University with ideas to expand to other colleges. This is a smart move, considering that seventy-eight percent of Americans had read at least one book in the previous 12 months, with 83 percent among those aged between 16 and 29. In other words, the majority are college aged students!
With the identification of a susceptible target audience and command over the market, Amazon also has a wealth of online profile databases to base consumer shopping experience from. This will aid them in identifying and curating items to stock their stores with. However, there is the added benefit of studying how the data will reflect with things that most consumers would like to touch before they buy, such as state-of-the-art Kindle brands. Perhaps just as interesting as their capacity to link and analyze data is their ability to augment their store with their massive market presence.
Amazon will not have prices on their books in this store in order to keep up with online pricing. If the customer wants to know the price of the book, they will have to look it up on Amazon. By doing this, the customer experiences complete immersion both in and out of the store. When they look up an item, that data is registered on their consumer profile, and a purchase can be delivered same day. As a result, stock of like-items can be suggested to the consumer. This squeezes the market of competitors and generates repeat customers.
Undoubtedly, Amazon is changing the way we shop, but also how we think about shopping. I am curious myself to find out if this ship floats or sinks. If it floats, this could be a threatening prospect to the publishing industry, who already laments Amazon’s rise to power. One thing is clear- Amazon isn’t going anywhere any time soon.