Amazon Fresh builds pick-up store in Seattle
Eagle has landed
Could the tech star be on the verge of clipping its prime competitive advantage? Or is the project just another laudable example of the way US companies fearlessly progress by trial & error?
Meanwhile, retailers can only hope Amazon doesn't conclude that they charge far too much for their often grim customer service and depressing store ambience.
As there is no point in asking the secretive and opaque behemoth for more information about its ultimate intentions, let's take a sneak peek at what exactly the company is building in its home town.
The lucky colleague who got to go and have a look was none other than Olaf Kolbrück, the creative mind behind e.tailment. In Ballard, one of the hipper quarters in boom town Seattle, he found a 900m² store with a wooden facade and a goods delivery door painted in Amazon Fresh's bright green corporate colour.
Let's get physical: Amazon Fresh's first pick-up store in Seattle
During opening times from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., customers can use the adjacent car park or have orders brought to their car. A maximum of 15 employees will have to move quickly, though, says Michael Lierow, retail consultant at Oliver Wyman, because there are only a dozen parking spaces and the maximum waiting time is only five minutes.
Customers might also be able to enter the store and order goods on tablet devices, which would obviously generate additional impulse purchases. Lierow can't see a store of this size offering a full supermarket assortment with fresh produce. But he can imagine popular lines such as the latest Harry Potter, smartphones and headsets as well as typical take-away items including batteries, confectionary, drinks and ice cream.
Limited storage space also means that it will not be possible to carry the whole Amazon Fresh range with its three temperature bands. Doubtless the new drive-in will be serviced by an adjacent depot, hence the bright-green truck delivery gate on the side of the building. Big spaces that have obviously been reserved for advertising look as though they are going to be used for communicating special offers.
How green was my company: The facade of Amazon Fresh's first pick-up store in Seattle is painted in the same corporate colour as its delivery boxes
At the end of the day, this is just one of the many routes Amazon is taking to the consumer. But bricks & mortar retailers throughout the world will surely be praying that the US company doesn't get too good at running physical stores.
So what's next in life's endless catalogue of surprises? Perhaps Amazon will form a new subsidiary for the prevention of international tax evasion or enter into a joint venture with local tax authorities?
Related article in German: "Frisch aus Seattle" by Olaf Kolbrück & Birgitt Loderhose, page 30, Lebensmittel Zeitung, no. 46, 18.11.2016
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