Retailers are dead. Long live the Amazon-Retailer

The recent news about Amazon acquiring the beloved Whole Foods (See here) seems to be just one piece in a bigger Amazon strategy. It seems that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos wants to redefine Amazon as a dual physical/virtual entity. No longer “only” an online-store and a technology mogul but now also a brand that has a physical presence that one can touch and interact with in the real world.

One of Amazon’s other brick and mortar initiatives is the Amazon Books stores. This weekend I stepped into one of these book stores in the Boston area.

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When you first step into the store you feel like a “back to the future” ordeal. You feel like this is a Barns & Noble store in the good old days. They have similar smell. Similar wooden floor and store layout and even a coffee shop in the middle of the book store.

In a closer look you start to see that this is also a technology empowered store. There are no price labels, instead there are barcodes you can scan on your phone. There are customer ratings for everything and there are gadgets for sale as well.

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I found this experience to be confusing.

Amazon in the real world is awkward (for me), the brand is all about the online/virtual world. Relationships are indirect and impersonal.

Yet the book store feeling of Amazon Books is warm and cosy. Like in the old days. You can pick a real hardcover book, turn the pages, read a bit, get coffee, read some more and finally pay and take the book with you to home (I assume but I did not do it myself). Brining the two together brings a mix of feelings.

Seeing Amazon personally, right in our neighborhoods, may become the new normal. Get ready for a mall with all Amazon stores: Amazon books in one corner, Amazon Appliances in the second corner, Amazon Whole Foods in another and so on.

Weird and scary. Right?