The first rule of logistics is, "you can shift the functions, you can shift the costs, but in the end, someone's gotta pay." They can chase the higher margin of private label, but now they have to buy in large lots and warehouse it somewhere, instead of accessing other people's inventory for "free" at a lower margin. It can only work in the largest of metro areas with the least-constricted transportation networks, so basically, what, Phoenix? Not scalable up to NYC/LA/Chicago, and not intense enough for Duluth or Des Moines.
I know it's just a render, but the covered-up windows just make this look like a creepy, abandoned strip mall. Zero contribution toward community place-making or even public safety. Amazon may not care, but local governing bodies should.
3-D printing and weave-to-order looms, plus current dye-sublimation technology, might allow for leapfrogging right over what Amazon is planning. Then it comes down to the quality of design and execution, a very local/tribal experience that busts up "mass" retail. We're starting to see this in food with flour micro-milling units, for instance.
Heck, we haven't even considered the impact of print-at-home replicators in that timeframe. Or industrial replicators in the 2030s. They'll probably consider COVID as the trigger for radical reworking of supply chain concepts, literally from the atom up....
And thanks to their acquisition of Shipt, Target leapfrogged Walmart's drive for home delivery. Shipt keeps getting better itself and is reason #1 why my mother-in-law has been able to live independently.
I remember this from the 1970s. Here in Minneapolis, it was a chain of warehouses called LaBelles. You would look through the catalogs and displays up front, pencil in your order, hand it to the clerk, and it would be picked and packed for you to take to your car in about 20 minutes. Substitute robots for humans and your iPhone for a slip of paper. Boring as heck. I bet every major city had something like this, and every last one of them went out of business. If you're going to make ME come to YOU, it had better be interesting, because I can get stuff done at home while I wait for my Amazon order.
I'm a loyal Target shopper and of course go there first. I've seen that pink rolling cart in more neutral colors there for at least a year. Bought one for my mother-in-law last summer. And it's been at IKEA for years before that. Woven baskets, wooden hangers too. Whole lot of, "yes, this is what you've always carried. So what?"
More of this: one of the bigger Twin Cities' school districts just informed parents their milk provider can only supply half of expected demand due to shortages in, of all things, paper milk cartons. At my company, there isn't enough thick cardboard available anywhere in our supply chain to fulfill all my customers' orders for current titles of bingo games and puzzles -- let alone to allow us to introduce new titles.
Physical retail or not, when your drivers, packers, and vendors are falling over sick or have to stay home to care for their sick children/parents, that shuts down the supply chain cold.
Glancing over my teen daughter's shoulder, she's consuming media very differently and nearly all of it is from streamers none of us have ever heard of. (Lots of anime and gaming - in this respect already highly aligned with Zoomer media, clothing, and merchandise inclinations in East Asia.) I don't see the big, traditional retail brands as the vanguard - it's going to be little independents, working off a print-to-order backbone, that become the ones who figure out how to make it sustainable in the U.S. market.
The incident in L.A. over the holidays where the 14-year old girl was killed in a fitting room when a cop's bullet went through the sheetrock should give every retailer pause. Hard to sue the police when use of force goes wrong. Easy to sue a store that employs lethal force.
The discovery process when the first innocent shopper gets injured or killed at a Hy-Vee will be very interesting.
Delta Air Lines basically did the same "soft" thing with insurance, and United made it a straight-up "hard" requirement - the handful of staff who left were more than replaced with new applicants. Mayo Clinic's mandate saw quick 97 percent compliance - those who left were much less than the usual turnover.
In the Before Times, getting a Starbucks mug or tumbler with the local artwork was my little "trophy" for a successful trip. The shelf by my coffee maker at home shows locations from Guangzhou to Copenhagen! Eagerly awaiting those opportunities to return.
Frankly, the logistics services division of Amazon (aircraft and long-haul trucking down to local delivery) would be one heckuva great spinoff company. "We deliver your goods with no baggage attached..."
Does Amazon even *need* to sell physical stuff anymore?