Thanks for the support Amazon but what comes next? (Photo Illustration by Filip Radwanski/SOPA … [+]
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We’ve probably become more familiar with them than almost anything else these past few months, those white vans criss-crossing the country bringing our latest Amazon AMZN purchase to our doors in double-quick time.
For many, its functional ease and accessibility has meant that Amazon has been a godsend for those stuck indoors with none of the normal activities we associate with everyday living.
Shopping and browsing has gone online and throughout the pandemic, Amazon has benefited. Pre-pandemic, mid-March its share price stood at 1,676 USD. On June 10 it had soared to 2,654 USD.
But not all has gone smoothly, with a COVID-19 squeeze on delivery timings which went from days to weeks for non-essential items, shoppers left over 800,000 negative reviews on Amazon’s shopping site in April.
So, have we suddenly fallen out of love? That seems unlikely, but if one initiative is anything to go by, there does appear to be life after Amazon.
Shopping Night In America
Of one thing we can be reasonably certain, for a long time to come, shopping will be a very different experience from the one we had all become accustomed to. For example, it seems likely that browsing will become socially unacceptable. When there is a queue of people outside the store waiting to get in, the last thing we’re going to be encouraged to do is simply browse. So how can we enjoy a similar experience in a post-pandemic digital world?
Atlanta based retail consultant Ed King, had long realised that there are many local independent retailers who have no online presence and are unlikely or prefer not to sell via Amazon.
In effect, rendering them completely impotent during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of all non-essential retail. There seemed a need to be able to bring these independent retailers together with their customers in a digital world.
King had the idea for Shopping Night In America last year, long before the pandemic hit but then saw the great American take-out concept and when lockdown came, he concluded that its time had come. A modest Facebook campaign soon demonstrated the latent demand for such a thing.
The beauty of the idea is in the sheer simplicity of it; retailers use Facebook to live stream every Wednesday evening, potential customers can then “browse” the individual stores and then make their purchase directly with the merchant if they choose to. No overt selling, just good honest authenticity.
And from its first night in early April where there were thirty retailers and over a thousand customers it has grown to the point where King is considering holding it every evening.
The vast majority of the retailer / customer relationships are local to one another although he has seen sales across the length and breadth of the United States.
“This is great for those independent retailers who have a transitory inventory. Fashion,toys, jewelry and especially craft stores have proved popular”, he said.
Emerging from the initiative is a new retail metric, “sales per minute”. King claims that during pre-pandemic times the average takings for his retailers was $1.48 per minute in their brick and mortar environments. On the online platform it jumps to $18 per minute, based on average sales per store of $22,000 per week.
“People go to Amazon to buy things, this gives them the opportunity to browse” he asserts.
It’s often debated as to how independent retailers can compete with Amazon, with Shopping Night In America, they may have found the answer.