The Seattle Times recently published an article recapping the Amazon shareholders meeting on May 17, 2016. The statements below from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos give a small glimpse to its omnichannel retail strategy:
- “Our goal with Amazon Prime, make no mistake, is to make sure that if you are not a Prime member, you are being irresponsible,” Bezos said.
- Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar bookstore, in Seattle’s University Village, won’t be the company’s last, Bezos said. He also acknowledged the irony of Amazon, a company that sped the demise of many physical booksellers, getting into that business itself. “It’s an experiment,” he said. “We’re definitely going to open additional stores. How many? We don’t know yet.”
Shoppers being irresponsible demonstrates Amazon’s recognition that today’s omnichannel shoppers are fully into convenience. It will become irresponsible for a shopper to not participate in Prime, or programs similar to Prime, because it makes shopping easier, faster, and more automated.
To better understand the future of shopping just look at the automobile industry. In the past, car maintenance was a chore. Many of us remember checking oil levels with dipsticks, having a choice to put a seatbelt on or not, checking tire pressure before road trips, adjusting the air-conditioning/heating, and using cumbersome, folding road maps to navigate. Computers do all of that work for us, as automobile manufacturers have been on a long race for more and more convenience for their drivers.
What was chores is now automated. This was all based off of universal and individual behaviors. Expect the same with retail shopping. Shoppers will soon not even shop for hand soap, except for the initial purchase of a soap dispenser with a microchip that automatically orders soap to replenish itself. I would hate to NOT be the brand that was chosen first. The brand that was chosen first will be the one which embraced the omni-shopper. It will be the one which got in line with technology, data, and content that was discoverable by the shoppers in web searches and with omni-retailers.
Amazon’s brick-and-mortar effort is limited and small. However, it represents an objective for the e-commerce giant because brick-and-mortar retail sales still boast 90% of all retail transactions today, until 2020. Face it folks, Amazon is going omnichannel. A focused e-commerce strategy will NOT accommodate the omni-shopper. They know it, Walmart knows it, and the shoppers know it. Do manufactures know it?