Within the blink of an eye, everything we purchase has gone to a subscription model, from the food we consume to the clothes we wear. But as few consumers shop exclusively online, in-store, or via subscriptions, we’re seeing the brands that have a hand in all three realms of shopping are proving most successful.
Amazon is forging the way to a blended retail experience, merging online shopping, subscription services, and brick-and-mortar locations. The bread and butter of their retail business, the e-commerce giant has changed the way we shop. Amazon sold over $250 billion of merchandise online in 2018 and offers over 12 million products to their 310 million active online customers.
Subscribe to the Tribe
Of Amazon’s 310 million active users, 90 million of those are Prime members, paying yearly subscription fees to access expedited shipping, entertainment content, and a slew of other perks. Not only is it beneficial for the consumer, Prime, like most subscription services, encourages consumers to spend more. On average, Amazon Prime members spend $1,400 per year, compared to $600 from non-Prime members. The cherry on top of the Prime Membership model is Amazon’s subscription replenishment program called Subscribe & Save which delivers anything from groceries to pet supplies on a monthly basis.
Online Goes Offline
Though many fingers are pointed at Amazon for shaking up the brick and mortar retail industry, Amazon recognizes the power of pairing their behemoth online presence and subscription services with physical locations. The company now has over 600 physical retail locations, including Amazon Books, Amazon 4-Star, Amazon Go, and Presented By Amazon, selling merchandise, books, Amazon devices, and food. Amazon’s brick and mortar stores provide a personal and tangible experience with their products, as well as in-person touchpoints with the Amazon brand. Ricardo Belmar, Senior Director of Worldwide Product Marketing at InfoVista, says “customers who want to explore in a physical, tactile way rather than staring at a screen will enter Amazon Books and walk out having purchased something unexpected. This experience will be memorable and will keep shoppers coming back. That’s what Amazon can teach other retailers with this store format.”
A Unified Approach
The brand has deftly unified their online presence, subscription services, and brick and mortar locations. Eligible items purchased from Amazon.com are able to be returned hassle-free to Amazon Books stores, lightening the burden of returning unwanted items from online shopping splurges. In the perfect convergence of online and in-person shopping, Amazon uses the data they collect online to inform retail decisions, stocking only top-rated books according to their online reviewers. Sections of the store include online favorites purchased by customers from the neighborhood the store is located in, leveraging big data to appeal to local tastes and interests.Amazon isn’t the only store to have a hand in three realms of shopping, we’re seeing more and more trailblazing brands creating the future of blended retail, including fashion retailers Nordstrom and Bonobos. As Erik Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom told the Wall Street Journal, “there aren’t store customers or online customers — there are just customers who are more empowered than ever to shop on their own terms.”
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