Innovation in Retail

Amazon.com logoA lot has happened in the retail industry in the 18 years since the summer of 1995. I realize that’s a strange number of years to focus on, except when you consider this: that was when Amazon.com was born. (For you sticklers, it was conceived a year earlier in July 1994, but didn’t go online until a year later.)

I was struck by this realization while reading the September Fast Company article about Jeff Bezos – or “King Bezos” as proclaimed on the cover. We’ve watched the company grow over the years, and I’m willing to bet most of us have helped it grow. Remember how it started as a mere online bookstore, then evolved to include movies, music, software, games, clothes, jewelry and other everyday stuff? And then… a lot more, including fulfillment and shipping improvements, video streaming, cloud storage and more. (Rather than recap everything they’ve done and who they are now, I recommend you read the About Amazon page on you know, amazon.com.)

All this to say one thing: Amazon = Innovation in Retail.

Bezos has had this “Day One” mentality (described on their About page) since, well… day one. In other words, it doesn’t sound like he ever goes, “Good job, everyone. We finally did it: everything that could possibly be done.” He truly knows there’s always more to do – more processes to improve, more relationships to build, more problems to solve … more innovations to be innovated.

And while Amazon constantly strives to improve the customer experience, I love that they don’t get carried away, they proceed cautiously and strategically. For a very specific example, as John Yunker noted in his Global Retailers report, “Even though Amazon supports just nine languages – compared with IKEA (30) and Starbucks (22) – it offers an e-commerce platform that is second to none. While many retailers go wide in global scope, but shallow in features and functionality, Amazon takes a narrow but deep approach.”

If you have some time, you might want to also check out a couple of other interesting Bezos-related goodies:

It Goes Beyond Amazon.com
I love to see that the Amazon.com spirit of smart innovation is showing up all over the retail industry.

  1. Hointer - web shotBrick and mortar shopping, no salespeople. Shopping at brick and mortar Hointer means looking around, trying jeans on and paying, just like any other shopping experience. Well, except no stacks and racks of clothes to wade through, no waiting for salespeople to bring different sizes, and no standing in line to pay. It’s a digital shopping experience while in a physical store. Still in pilot mode, but super cool.
  2. Little Black Bag - logoGamification of online shopping. As I was researching interesting retail innovations for this post, I found LittleBlackBag.com. Shoppers choose one item they like, then the website algorithm chooses two more based on the first one. The shopper buys the set of 3 items even if they don’t want them all, then trades the individual pieces with other shoppers until they have exactly what they want. I tried it and thought it was pretty fun.
  3. eBay Now - logoSame-day delivery of online orders. eBay is testing out a new delivery service: eBay Now, for shoppers in New York and the San Francisco area. For $5 and a minimum order of $25 from specified local stores (e.g. Target, Office Depot, Walgreens, Guitar Center, Home Depot, Macy’s, and more), their “valets” will deliver items directly to shoppers within 1 hour. I’ll be trying this out the next time I visit one of those markets since they deliver to hotels and offices, not just homes.

Although the first two of those ideas showcase technological innovations, the third really doesn’t – yet it’s still an innovative concept. It’s all about the courage to try new ideas while improving how retail works, and I love watching companies like Amazon, Hointer, LittleBlackBag and eBay Now as they do just that!

 

2 Replies

  1. Pingback: Retail Trends throughout History | Global ConsumerGlobal Consumer

  2. biquetteland.net - January 16, 2014 at 3:35 am Reply

    I read this article completely concerning the resemblance of most up-to-date and preceding technologies, it’s awesome article.

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