We went down to a physical retail store to buy stuff for the home the other day. Right then, I realized how much we missed the Amazon experience. We missed two aspects in particular.
1. Reviews. I felt lost as I looked at products in the aisle. Were these the ones that came highly recommended? On what basis were they on the aisle?
2. Unlimited selection. We were looking for a specific product we’d seen online. But, it was “out of stock.” Out of stock? What is that? :-)
Three reflections –
First, reviews and unlimited selection make the Amazon experience vastly much superior to most physical retail stores. I could immediately see a future application for augmented reality. I would imagine us wearing AR glasses to see reviews superposed on top off products in physical retail stores. We’d be able to instantly compare attributes and prices across retailers as well. Pushing this further, I’d imagine retailers would already know what I intend to buy by having their staff wear AR glasses of their own. After all, I was probably logged into their website when I was searching. They’d be able to help me as soon as they saw me walk in.
Second, hybrid approaches often tend to be powerful. Maybe retailers could do better with having computers onsite that would help us browse their online inventory. At least, they could convert our intent to a sale by helping us make a purchase and have it delivered to our homes rather than have us go back and order it on Amazon. On the other hand, Amazon retail stores would be very helpful. They could just have all their best selling merchandise in one place.
Finally, it is impossible to roll technology back. Such experiences repeatedly underline how naive discussions around bringing jobs back to “x country” are. The Amazon experience is better for customers with far lesser people employed per dollar of revenue. Even the folks who are employed in their warehouses are slowly being replaced by robots with a few human supervisors. Technology innovation is going to keep moving forward.
It is up to us to keep pace with it.