Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The Amazon shop? It’s up the street beside Boots

The Amazon shop may be coming to a street near you. The speculation about the opening of a Seattle store comes on the day when Amazon became the UK’s leading entertainment retailer, knocking the beleagured HMV into second place. Add …

Wed, Feb 8, 2012, 09:31

   

The Amazon shop may be coming to a street near you. The speculation about the opening of a Seattle store comes on the day when Amazon became the UK’s leading entertainment retailer, knocking the beleagured HMV into second place. Add in the huge success of the company’s Kindle product in ramping up the ebook market and Amazon’s continuing ability to disrupt traditional industries is something worth noting.

While the initial plan is to operate “boutique” stores to sell Kindles and accessories, the news is still sure to come as another blow to traditional entertainment product stores currently struggling to survive. Just as Apple have demonstrated with their stores, a bunch of Amazon shops on Main Streets worldwide would give the company the retail space to showcase their wider wares and also hoover up more of the market. Should the initial toe in the water prove successful, it wouldn’t be long before the stores increased in size and stock. While the Kindle is currently Amazon’s only branded product, Jeff Bezos could well be envisaging a day when they carry other electronic lines and thus, the need for retail space to show these off.

The refound interest in bricks-and-mortar stores is interesting. Amazon’s online operations are what have made them the gigantic force they are because they can use economies of scale to push volume and revenue. Yet for all that, the company feel a physical presence could help them push those sales even more. It’s one thing for people to read about these products online, but it’s quite another for them to get to push the buttons and hold the things in their paws before they produce their wallets. Remember that sales of Apple gear really only took off thanks to word of mouth recommendations from people who weren’t part of the Apple cult (DOI: I am a long-standing member of that cult) and the opening of Apple stores on busy shopping streets.

For the shops who are still in the business of flogging entertainment products, it’s another warning about how the bigger players will continue to invade their patch. It’s one thing to have to compete with the Amazons and Apples when they’re online, but it’s quite another thing when they open a shop on the next street over (and there’s plenty of vacant commercial space around to make that move viable). Again, survival is down to niches and specialisations. As the collapse of the HMV model has shown, you can’t be all things to all men anymore in a High Street setting. You can try – and boy, have HMV tried – but you will probably end up as confused and bemused as your potential customers. While there will always be a market for specialist shops, the competition is likely to be even greater all round in terms of prices and stock in the future. Time to get smart, really smart, about the business you’re in.

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