A Recipe for Modern Brick & Mortar Retail (How to beat Amazon)

What does retail look like if we throw out all assumptions?

A Recipe for Modern Brick & Mortar Retail (How to beat Amazon)

What does retail look like if we throw out all assumptions?

To be clear: I am long Amazon. They have vision and execution in spades. So much so, that they’re now perceived as an unstoppable force. Someone who will dominate in any arena they enter. This perception causes to overlook several areas in which they are weak.

  1. Curation: Discovery on Amazon is kind of horrible. Amazon is fantastic if you know what you’re looking for, either a specific product or a product type. But if you don’t their recommendations are basically retargeting. Retargeting, while super effective at ROI, is terrible at identifying truly *new* ideas.
  2. Customer Service & Consistency: Returns and Prime, non prime. They’ve solved 80% of transactions, but edge cases are painful. Order something from a 3rd party vendor that has an odd return policy? Anything you need to talk to a human for is an issue. We can see this at work with affiliate accounts who trip spam detectors. Reinstating is nearly impossible.
  3. Product Design: Amazon’s idea of product design is shipping something which can be bought in 6 packs within 12 months.

Case Study

  • Tom’s
  • Warby Parker
  • Amazon Book Stores
  • Muji
  • Trader Joes: Uniqueness, discovery, experience
  • (Small New York Home goods store)

What can Retail do Better than Web?

  • Experience
  • Focused Discovery
  • Feel

Drew’s Rules

  • Follow Through: if selling product based on feel, do you follow through with online subscriptions or ease of purchase
  • Experience: Curated experience
  • Discovery: Rotating stock, new things weekly. Always have an excuse to go.
  • Encourage Phone Use: Scale “feel” by using recommendations. Pinterest “Save” button for retail store. Instagram “scenes.” All driving back to your site.
  • Keep Costs Down: Small stores, in super-high value locations.
  • Launch with Digital Capturing Physical Momentum
  • Start Online: Get really good at curating in an environment where you can measure feedback.
  • Don’t Try to Beat Amazon: Nordstrom is trying to think about how they compete with Echo? This is nonsense.