retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Los Angeles Times reports that Amazon plans to open a bricks-and-mortar store this summer in the University Towne Center Mall in San Diego.

Last month, the story says, "job listings around San Diego looking for booksellers and store managers also tipped off watchers to the company's intentions to open a physical bookstore in the area. Amazon spokeswoman Sarah Gelman has now confirmed that Amazon Books in San Diego will be an official Amazon bookstore."

The story also notes that the new Amazon store "will be next to a Tesla Store and across from an Apple Store."
KC's View:
This story makes the mistake of going back to the story from a few weeks ago that said Amazon was planning to open hundreds of physical stores in fairly short order - a story that originated with a real estate developer who subsequently walked it back (probably because he got a harsh phone call from Seattle).

One of the things that this location seems to share with a similar Seattle store in proximity to a university; it is not a coincidence that Amazon also has been opening pick-up centers on select college campuses. This is all about expanding and cementing its ecosystem in the psyches on young people, who largely don't remember a time when Amazon did not exist.

By the way ... we had a story here yesterday that mentioned how an Arkansas consultant said that Amazon is at a disadvantage when competing with Walmart because the costs for it to establish a physical presence is far higher than for Walmart to ramp up digitally. And I responded by saying that this assumed that Amazon wants to play Walmart's game, which I don't think it does. And I wrote about the consultant's comments:

Spoken like a guy who has his offices in Arkansas. Not that I have anything against Arkansas, but the view of the world looks different from there than it does from other places. Like, say, Seattle.

One MNB reader responded:

There are occasions where you show regional bias, the most recent example provided today ... Not that I have anything against Seattle, but if your view is middle America because that is where your core consumer resides, what exactly would make Seattle a better location to plot WalMart on line strategy?  Just curious.

Not better. Just different. I really wasn't being geographically biased in this comment (though, in all fairness, I have to admit that I am a creature of both coasts - born in Greenwich Village, lived most of my life in the suburbs of New York City, went to college in Los Angeles, and want to move to Oregon). I was just saying - perhaps more obliquely than I meant to - that it probably is a mistake to think that Amazon wants to play Walmart's game ... just as it seems clear that in pursuing an omnichannel strategy, Walmart believes that it can play a different game than Amazon does.

This is, I think, a lesson that all retailers need to take to heart. Very few can play Amazon's game, or Walmart's. Rather than fixating on what their games are, one has to focus on developing one's own game plan ... that takes advantages of one's strengths and minimizes weaknesses ... that acknowledges the competitive realities in which one exists without becoming a weak, "me, too" player ... and that understands that effectively delivering what the customers want and need is far more important than being efficient or doing things the way they've always been done.

I rave about Amazon all the time, but I would never suggest that its competitors need to try replicating or imitating the Amazon experience. But they damned sure better have a compelling and differentiated alternative to that experience, and be prepared to tell their story in colorful terms.