Amazon to roll out pop-ups nationwide

Discussion
Photo: Amazon.com
Sep 12, 2016

Amazon has quietly been opening pop-ups in malls across the country selling Echo and its other electronic devices and plans to have up to 100 open by 2017, according to Business Insider.

The company has likewise quietly launched a microsite supporting the pop-up initiative and showing that Amazon already has 22 locations.

The microsite promises the pop-ups will let shoppers try the full range of Amazon devices — including Echo, Fire TV, Fire Tablets, Dash Button and Kindle — with on-hand experts available. The pop-ups will further enable mall visitors to choose from an array of accessories, “from kid-proof covers to unlimited streaming of movies and music with Prime.”

A source told Business Insider that the number of pop-ups is expected to exceed 30 this year, up from six last year, and could reach as many as 100 by next year. Job listings are showing up in some cities with one ad indicating the pop-ups “have emerged from the test phase with a goal to expand and grow.”

Beyond the initial success of test pop-ups, the expansion appears designed to build on Echo’s breakout success and counters moves in 2012 by Target and Walmart to stop selling Amazon devices. Target plans to bring Amazon products back this year.

The source told Business Insider that the pop-ups could potentially evolve in the future into more traditional tech-focused stores, similar to those run by Apple.

The pop-ups are a separate initiative from Amazon Books, which have only a small area devoted to electronic devices. Amazon Books, which has two stores open, is being run by its retail team, while the pop-ups are operated by its device team.

Fortune has reported that Amazon is considering opening hundreds of brick-and-mortar bookstores across the country.

At Amazon’s annual meeting in May, CEO Jeff Bezos said the company was “definitely going to open additional stores,” although the number was uncertain. He stated, “In these early days it’s all about learning, rather than trying to earn a lot of revenue.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are pop-ups a smart way for Amazon to raise awareness and drive trial for Echo and its other electronic devices? What does this initiative say about Amazon’s ambition to open physical stores?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Amazon is pressing into the physical world and other retailers had better stay alert and responsive or [it] will be the death knell for many! "
"Pop-ups are a great way for Amazon to introduce Echo, Dash, and their other electronic devices to consumers."
"I am intrigued by “non-retailers” running retail operations. Some do it very poorly and some don’t let traditional assumptions guide their efforts."

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21 Comments on "Amazon to roll out pop-ups nationwide"


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Bob Amster
BrainTrust

We commented earlier that pop-ups are a very effective way of testing or piloting new concepts. In the particular case of Amazon devices, it provides additional exposure using the “store” channel. Provided the devices themselves are attractive and ultimately desirable, the concept is probably the least expensive method of testing the waters. As clearly stated by CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon can afford the luxury of conducting this type of learning experiment.

Max Goldberg
Guest

Pop-ups are a great way for Amazon to introduce Echo, Dash, and their other electronic devices to consumers. Consumers can see how the products work and where Amazon technology is headed. There’s a real “gee-whiz” factor the first time Alexa responds to one of your commands.

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Surprise, surprise, surprise! As soon as we started seeing Amazon open brick-and-mortar locations I knew this wasn’t just an experiment. Amazon validated the importance of a physical presence — giving shoppers a tangible opportunity to experience the brand with all of their other senses. Let’s stop using the term pop-up stores when talking about Amazon. Pop-up infers a temporary, transient event. Amazon is pressing into the physical world and other retailers had better stay alert and responsive or this evolution for Amazon will be the death knell for many! Amazon will have an incredible advantage to bring together the virtual and physical shopping experiences. I, for one, will be paying very close attention to their design and implementations.

Anne Howe
Guest

Bezos is right on the money to be more interested in learning than revenue from pop-up stores. These stores are a way to deliver user experience for somewhat complex products that most consumers don’t have any experience with. Amazon will figure this out and find ways to turn the learning into better shopping experiences both online and in real life.

It’s refreshing to see this leading retailer turning around to serve the customer in physical settings.

Shawn Harris
BrainTrust

Amazon pop-ups make sense as a strategy to expand awareness of Amazon’s devices and to allow buyers to experience them. Similar to Apple, Amazon can ensure knowledgeable store staff that are able to guide buyers through to purchase. The store in Seattle has a dedicated area for Amazon’s devices where you can fully experience them. The rest of the store experience was not that compelling, leading me to believe that it is more of a fulfillment and reverse-logistics cost-reduction strategy.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

The key is to look at where the puck is going (not where it is now). Electronics, cell phones and sporting goods offer high margins only when the sale is associate-assisted (where upsell and cross-sell occur). This retail approach is very different for Amazon, and so I will place my money on the fact that Amazon is investing in the discovery phase of assistive selling as a margin-generating strategy.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

I am intrigued by “non-retailers” running retail operations. Some do it very poorly and some — P&G and now Amazon — don’t let traditional assumptions guide their efforts. And whether they mean to disrupt or not, they do.

For now these efforts are primarily learning frameworks, but there is chain potential here, whether organic or through acquisition.

This feels like the first significant steps in a very new and different retail landscape.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Pop-ups for Amazon are a great idea. You just knew they had to get physical sooner or later but to do anything more permanent, including book stores IMO, is much riskier. Amazon is the best retailer in the world at “digital native thinking” and has always really only been about gathering information vs. building revenue (see also: Echo, Fire, Grocery, etc.). This idea just further enhances that quest.

Lee Kent
Guest

Out on a limb here but I don’t think this says much of anything about Amazon’s ambition to open stores. It has much more to do with being an easy way for the public to see and fall in love with devices like Echo. A device that is fun to use and ends up with more sales for Amazon. It’s not so much abut the device as it is the retail sales that result.

But that’s just my 2 cents.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Online purchasing is a low-risk transaction to the customer when they know and understand the product that they are purchasing sight-unseen, so to speak. That’s why known brands and commodity products do so well online. When the product is a less well-known brand or has a less well-known use (Echo), then shoppers like to at least showroom the product first and then buy it in the most convenient manner possible once they have lowered the risk by looking, touching and talking about it. For Amazon they have no physical showroom, so the pop-ups make eminent sense. Whether they drive the sales online or in-store, Amazon wins. I don’t think one can extrapolate from a pop-up that is driving brand building and education to a full brick-and-mortar presence as an automatic extension.

Robert DiPietro
Guest

Pop-ups are a very smart way for Amazon to raise awareness and trial operational aspects of a physical store. It’s likely that customers that can shop multiple channels and spend more money at Amazon. It is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the ecosystem. You can’t beat the in-person show-and-tell aspect of demonstrating new technology. The only thing interesting is that the retail book team is different than the device pop-up team.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff
Patricia Vekich Waldron
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
4 years 10 months ago

Pop-ups are a perfect way for Amazon to promote their tech products. It’s a low-cost way for consumers to touch and understand them and their value in a personal way.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

Makes sense for the upcoming holiday season where electronics are still common gifts for one’s self and family. Pop-ups are an easy way to get consumers to experience devices in person and gain direct feedback as well as to showroom the brand overall and to talk about the Prime service in a face-to-face situation. Amazon is basically doing “see in person then buy online” model at a low investment to see how that compares to the “see online buy in-store” strategy pursued by the brick-and-mortar competition.

Brian Kelly
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

Yes. In Bezos’ words: “The physical world is still the best medium ever invented. We are a gregarious species.” Stores allow Amazon to become that “totally integrated value chain.” Stores close the loop on Amazon’s shopper insight. Pop-ups are a relatively inexpensive way to get into physical retail. A great test platform to capture abundant data and further inform its move into a portfolio of stores in a variety of global locations.

The devices it sells provide deeper insight into shopper behavior post-sale. And the devices that Amazon sells are the gateway drug to the entire brand.

Amazon is wicked smart in how it tests its way into business expansion thereby limiting the risks and ensuring success. It is also unique in this regard which makes Amazon the scary competitor that it is.

As we like to say, “retail ain’t for sissies!”

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
4 years 10 months ago

These pop-ups follow a similar strategy to Amazon Prime — they are another means to engage customers in doing more business with Amazon and they will be very good for Amazon’s business and customer relationships. We’ve long been of the mindset that Amazon sets the standard for retail innovation and customer experience.

These pop-ups will make it even easier for customers to “get” Amazon and products like Echo. Another nail in the coffin not just for retailers but, increasingly, for brands that are unable to innovate around the customer experience.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

Amazon has had the experience of risking investment dollars, time and effort into their initiatives a long time before seeing a return. And there’s lots of opportunity with “pop-ups” (maybe a misnomer as others have suggested) to get exposure for their products/devices and learn how to optimize a retail presence. So why wouldn’t Amazon put those pieces together for their own long-term strategy?

Brand equity for Amazon is so high they’re bound to get consumer engagement. With that comes knowledge and insights for future planning. I say Bravo!

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest

A smart plan with little to no added cost as compared with traditional retail openings. It should be successful because it has the Amazon brand attached to it. On a comparative note, we were in a large mall Saturday evening and went into the Apple store. It was our first visit. We were impressed by the size and number of staff in the store, but mostly by the large crowd. Success breeds success. Watch for others to follow.

Jasmine Glasheen
BrainTrust
Jasmine Glasheen
Principal Writer & Content Strategist, Jasmine Glasheen & Associates
4 years 10 months ago

These pop-ups exemplify Amazon’s expertise in generating brand excitement. The term “pop-up” implies that the stores’ presence is temporary. Whether or not this turns out to be the case is irrelevant — customers will want to try Amazon’s new technologies while they have the opportunity.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

Smart move! As a recent convert to a Fire, it was a challenge to know whether or not the device would do what I wanted it to do without being able to test drive one. This will provide additional exposure to the array of devices offered by Amazon and agree that there is a “wow” factor to being able to try something like Alexa for the first time.

Karen S. Herman
BrainTrust

Pop-Up Stores are an excellent way to check the marketplace, give shoppers an opportunity to test your products, challenge your competition and increase brand awareness. Amazon is smart to deploy these device oriented Pop-Up stores with an expert on hand, to guide shoppers as they navigate Echo and interact with Alexa, learn the value of the Dash button and experience Fire TV and tablets firsthand.

Invest in the learning and the revenue will come. Kudos to Amazon. They get it.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust
Ken Morris
Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors
4 years 10 months ago

I believe it was always inevitable that Amazon would open brick and mortar locations. It is a natural evolution and pop-ups are a great way to test the market. Everyone wants to take advantage of the Apple-ization of retail and this is Amazon’s take on it by dipping their toes in the water. There is only so much you can do online … you need the feel, the touch, the smell of the store experience that to date has not been duplicated online … VR anyone?

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Amazon is pressing into the physical world and other retailers had better stay alert and responsive or [it] will be the death knell for many! "
"Pop-ups are a great way for Amazon to introduce Echo, Dash, and their other electronic devices to consumers."
"I am intrigued by “non-retailers” running retail operations. Some do it very poorly and some don’t let traditional assumptions guide their efforts."

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