August 23, 2017

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Edwin Meijer – four things you can learn from Amazon’s new shops

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You’re aware that your customers are behaving a little bit different than 10 years ago and that’s mainly because of the internet. For every purchase, Google gives us 100 alternatives and at least 25 shops to order from. And you can access it anywhere, anytime. So, in light of this, what does the garden centre of the future look like? Taking a look at Amazon helps a lot: not their webshop but the 2,000 grocery shops they plan to open! Garden Connect gives you 4 things to learn from Amazon.

  1. Why would they do that?

You might think the high street is dead or dying which is true to an extent. However, the future of shopping will be a combination of both online & offline. Sometimes your customers don’t want to spend an hour buying pet food and want to get it delivered to their homes. On another day, they need inspiration and companionship and will have a coffee, stroll along your Christmas displays and enjoy the moment.

Although Amazon is one of the biggest players in online shopping, they are lacking offline presence. Opening stores will allow them to interact with their customers at different moments.

  1. What will they do differently?

There will be no checkout. You can just pick up products and leave the store. Payments are processed via your smartphone and since all products are tagged there’s no need to have a checkout. If you put the product back on the shelf your virtual shopping bag is updated automatically as well. That will save Amazon a lot of money on staff and customers a lot of time on queuing.

Some Dutch garden centres are currently experimenting with self-check outs and mobile payments as well. Customers can scan their own products and make the payment via the app of the garden centre saving valuable time at the tills.

  1. The ultimate personal experience

At Garden Connect we’ve been working on Personal Marketing to enhance loyalty schemes for garden centres over the last 2 years. Our ambition: to communicate in a more personal way via an automated process.

Amazon is taking this to the next level by putting hundreds of cameras in their stores. This allows them to make personal offers of make-up to female visitors based on their skin colour. This may sound intrusive but remember a lot of companies can follow you via your smartphone nowadays (Google, Whatsapp, Apple and much more). Ten years ago that would have sounded intrusive as well, wouldn’t it?

Whether you like it or not a more personal shopping experience will be the future.

  1. What’s the strategy behind this?

Since Amazon hasn’t said a lot about their plans it’s a guess but it’s well-known groceries are tough to sell online. Pricing is very competitive; some of the big players have huge market shares and the costs of delivery are an issue. It might be that Amazon figured out delivering groceries isn’t generating a profit and opening grocery stores might help them to enter this market a bit more aggressively.

Selling plants online is also a struggle: low-value items like annuals are hard to ship effectively and customers can be picky about the ones they like to have. There are some comparisons to make between groceries and plants so don’t assume that Amazon or someone else won’t step into the garden industry with such a business model sooner or later!

One never knows if this is going to be “the next big thing” or if it will be a failure. Remember the buzz about Google Glass (fail) and 3D TV (anyone?)? I’ve never seen someone shopping wearing a Google Glass which automatically price-checks products in store. Sounds like a great idea but sometimes people just don’t like things. And maybe consumers don’t see the benefits of Amazon stores without check-outs.

Whatever happens, be sure to cherry pick some things Amazon is doing, implement it into your own business and keep moving forward in 2017!

Happy holiday season!

Edwin Meijer

edwin@gardenconnect.com

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