Amazon Books is better than Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
Amazon Books, Amazon’s only physical store that opened in November, fares favorably not only compared to large bookstore chains but to Amazon.com, according to a study by secret shoppers.
The study involved 10 Seattle agents from Field Agent, a market researcher. Asked where they would rather shop for/buy books, 70 percent chose Amazon Books over specialty bookstore chains (i.e., Barnes & Noble) and 60 percent chose Amazon Books over Amazon.com as well as other online options.
Some of the prototype’s strengths and weaknesses were revealed in the study as well as in Yelp reviews:
Low Prices: Yelp reviewers enjoyed the confidence of knowing they were getting Amazon.com’s low prices.
Instant gratification: Taking home purchases immediately ranked as a big advantage over Amazon.com.
Browsing: Browsing is made easier by front-facing books and walls and tables smartly categorized by themes.
Size: The 7,500-square-foot store offers a curated selection of bestsellers and widely recommended books. On the downside, size limits the selection versus both Amazon.com and large chains. Size also hampers the concept’s ability to offer coffee, provide adequate seating for reading and space for storytelling, book signing events, etc.
Information/reviews: The store earned praise versus larger book chains for carrying only highly reviewed books on Amazon.com as well as displaying review ratings on displays. Underneath each book is a tag where shoppers can read a short customer review with encouragement to read more through the Amazon app. These ranked much lower compared to Amazon.com’s depth of information and reviews.
Scanners: Some were frustrated by the lack of prices on books. Shoppers must scan the item’s barcode with the Amazon app or carry the book to a scan station. A few understood this allows prices to be variable and match Amazon.com pricing.
No cash: The inability to pay with cash proved an annoyance to a few. Some appreciated that using a credit card links all purchases to their Amazon.com account.
Gadget trial: Yelp reviewers appreciated being able try Fire TV, Kindle and Echo in a section located at the center of the store.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are you surprised that so many prefer Amazon Books to shopping on Amazon.com or in a Barnes & Noble store? What lessons can retailers take from Amazon Books and apply to their existing stores as well as new concepts?