At the top of ecommerce headlines Thursday was a report by the Wall Street Journal that Amazon will open a physical “store” in Manhattan in time for the holiday rush. Should small business owners, including those with only an online presence, be concerned?
Right now I have two answers to that question: Yes and No.
Headlines can be deceiving. Amazon’s location will not be an actual store one can shop. Instead, it will be both a same-day pick-up and a returns location for orders placed at Amazon.com. While it’s reported the etail giant may wind up displaying its own line of tech – Kindles and such – nothing indicates this test location will be anything but a “mini” warehouse.
Will more locations follow? Amazon needs to first realize if people want to leave their homes and offices to pick up an order that, with a Prime membership, could be delivered the next day for under $5. New Yorkers living near, or having to pass by, the building on 34th Street may take advantage of the service, but what about those who’d have to trek across the city?
Will Amazon’s physical presence be a threat to area retailers like local bookshops, gadgets stores, tech outlets, even Macy’s? Maybe. Maybe not. After all, there are a slew of retail giants that already offer same-day pickup (Macy’s is trying to do this as well). Granted, their prices may not compete with Amazon’s, but if you need something in a pinch, they’ll usually suffice.
Habitual procrastinator that I can be, I can only think of one product that would make me want to go out of my way. Printer toner. Because I always tell myself there’s at least one good “shake” left in the cartridge.
What do you think? Is this the start of something much bigger? Is Amazon planning to sell tangible products via brick and mortar outlets? Weigh in with your thoughts.