Laying the First Bricks: Amazon is Getting Physical but Wal-Mart Fights Back

 

There aren’t a whole lot of companies that can match up to the innovative prowess of the e-Commerce giant, Amazon. It seems as though every couple of months we’re catching some snippet that Amazon is trying out a new trick for the convenience of its loyal customers and, true to it’s nature, Amazon is about to pull their next trick out of the bag. An actual grocery store.

Amazon Go

Unlike AmazonFresh, the online grocery shopping option that promises quick deliveries of produce and other perishables, Amazon Go will be an actual brick and mortar store, one of the few ventures Amazon hasn’t really gotten into yet. So why the sudden change? For starters, how about throwing the competition a curve ball?

Some of Amazon’s biggest competitors are Wal-Mart and Target, who focuses on a combined service of both groceries as well as higher ticket items such as apparel and home goods.

Some of Amazon’s biggest competitors are Wal-Mart and Target, who focus on a combined service of both groceries as well as higher ticket items such as apparel and home goods. While the groceries and produce account for a relatively small amount of the sales, it does bring in business which helps these chains hit their real goal of selling more expensive items.

Working out of a brick and mortar store will have its advantages.

Logistically speaking, trying to deliver produce and temperature sensitive goods in an appropriate time frame isn’t out of the scope of Amazon’s fairly comprehensive delivery machine, but it’s not necessarily practical either. This is why the grocery delivery service is only offered in select locations and still isn’t quite as popular as the tried and true alternative, as many customers still prefer to do their grocery shopping in stores, being able to touch, smell, and generally select their produce before purchase.

Many customers still prefer to do their grocery shopping in stores, being able to touch, smell, and generally select their produce before purchase.

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is experimenting with a few different styles of store, a convenience style or quick pick up store, as well as a drive through style, which lets customers skip having to walk into the store to begin with. The key is this, if Amazon has a physical location to work out of, they can capture more of the grocery market shares. As it stands, online grocery shopping is only a small portion of the business, about one percent currently, but is expected to continue to grow.

Wal-Mart Fights Back

If Amazon is going physical then Wal-Mart is retorting with the digital, according to an article from The Motley Fool. Many of the Wal-Mart supercenters are getting a technological upgrade in the attempt to keep Amazon in check in two ways. First is the curbside order pickup. Rather than having to walk into the store, select your items, then wade your way through the checkout line, you can simply place your order online and have it brought out to the car, allowing customers to skip the check out.

Additionally is the Gas and Go Style of Shopping, Similar to a Convenience Store.

Additionally is the Gas and Go style of shopping. This involves a secondary shop, similar to a convenience store, that has some last minute grocery items, coffee, snacks, and other concessions, as well as being a full service Gas Station. The twist is that, customers can place an online order, which is fulfilled by a nearby Supercenter, and arrive at a set time to have their groceries delivered while they gas up their vehicle. This level of convenience, combined with the grocery infrastructure that Wal-Mart already has in place might be enough to keep Amazon Go at bay.

This level of convenience, combined with the grocery infrastructure that Wal-Mart already has in place might be enough to keep Amazon Go at bay.

The Master of Logistics

It’s fairly safe to say that this point that Amazon’s actions are rarely without some sort of ulterior motive. Think back to the Amazon cloud services, which was originally designed to be an in-house service and was then converted into a highly successful business model.

If Amazon can get down the necessary logistics infrastructure to handle groceries and perishable produce, who’s to say they can’t then turn that service towards their competitors?

If Amazon can get down the necessary logistics infrastructure to handle groceries and perishable produce, who’s to say they can’t then turn that service towards their competitors? While it’s unlikely that many grocery stores are eager to hand over any form of control over to Amazon, it might be something we hear about in the future, especially given how skilled Amazon is at offering a high caliber service at a lower rate than the competition. Again, this is a bit too far off to tell presently, but it will be something to keep an eye on, especially as Amazon Go stores start to open around the country.

 

 

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