Is Amazon’s Retail Strategy in Trouble?

Angela Myrtetus

Director of Strategy, 15+ Years in Digital Strategy and Product Innovation

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Is Amazon’s Retail Strategy in Trouble? Blog Feature

Published on March 14th, 2019

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GASP! Amazon closing retail pop up shops? How can this be? 

Don't want to read? Watch our recap video on Amazon Retail Pop-Up Shops closing here: 

There are probably some people out there breezing through the news, “Amazon to Shut ALL U.S. Pop-Up Stores as It Rethinks Physical Retail Strategy” thinking Amazon is getting a taste of their own medicine.

This news comes on the tail end of stories like Payless, Charlotte Russe, GAP, Victoria Secret, and SO many more shutting their doors.

To be frank, taking a pause and re-thinking strategy is exactly what these stores should have done a long time ago when Amazon started to become big.

A direct quote from Amazon on this decision:

Across our Amazon network, we regularly evaluate our businesses to ensure we’re making thoughtful decisions around how we can best serve our customers,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNBC.

“After much review, we came to the decision to discontinue our pop-up kiosk program, and are instead expanding Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star, where we provide a more comprehensive customer experience and broader selection.”

Now, not once, but twice they mention their customers and their experience with their brand.

These pop-up stores were letting customers take a test drive on their products like Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers, Echo smart speakers — and Amazon services, like Prime Video, Audible and Kindle Unlimited.

Clearly, these pop-up stores weren't servicing their customers well, or it wasn't great for their brand. 

Learning From The Online Store Giant

Here’s the thing that ANY business in any industry should be learning from Amazon. Instead of wanting to take “Amazon Down”, re-think your strategy instead.

If you are put your customers first and you listen, REALLY listen, you can avoid having to close your doors because something bigger and better has come into play.

I don’t believe the downfall of Kmart/Sears, JCPenney, Payless, etc., has anything to do with Amazon.

What is Bad Customer Service in Retail?

None of the stores I mention above, in my opinion, are focused on the customer experience.

The brick and mortar businesses who DO take customer service seriously haven’t gone away; businesses likeCostco, Target, Chick-fil-A, Wegmans.

Every single time I drive by a Wendy’s or McDonalds, there aren’t a whole lot of people there, even for lunch now, but any time you drive by a Chick-fil-A, that place is packed no matter what time of the day is.

There are cars wrapped around the building, and while there are beliefs Chick-fil-A has that not everyone agrees with, their customer service strategy is hands-down one of the best of any fast food restaurant.

Costco, Target, and Wegmans - very similar customer service strategies.

A Real Life BAD Customer Experience

We have a Kmart about five minutes from me, and yes, it’s still open. I have no idea how, but it is. I ONLY go there if I absolutely must - and usually it’s because I forgot one of my kids has a birthday party to go to in an hour and I have no gifts.

My experience there is always terrible.

There are never registers open and the two that are open is like a scene out of Zootopia where the sloth at the DMV is taking a life time to answer one question. That is what it feels like.

One time, and I’m not even making this up, one of the cashiers was eating a chicken wing with one hand and using her other to scan our items...one by one, hour by hour.. I felt like we were there the entire day checking out 4 items.

THAT is not customer service, my friends!

This is why these business are failing.

Costco, busy every single time I go in there, but I stand in line for no more than 5 minutes b/c those people are on top of their game. They have a system like I’ve never seen before, and even though there may what feels like thousands of people all shopping at the same time, it’s never frustrating waiting to check out.

Put Your Customers FIRST!

So before you giggle, before you beat up on Amazon shutting down these pop-up stores, think for a second. Amazon is REALLY smart taking a pause on this. They are putting their customers first and putting more effort into Amazon 4 and Amazon books and Amazon Go b/c they feel the experience for their customers will be better served.

How much time have you invested in the experience of your customers? Is it time to take a pause and re-think your customer’s experience with your brand? It’s worth it.