Why Amazon is Winning
Let's face it. For the most part, the retail experience in this country is horrible.
Save a few - Apple, Target, and a few high-end others - retail experiences are absolutely horrible for the most part.
Case(s) in point: my last few retail experiences.
Electronic Express. Never mind the horrible name, this seems to be a relatively small chain on electronic and appliance stores in the area where I live (middle Tennessee). The store is actually not that bad - except for the staff and prices. The staff when I entered has always seemed preoccupied and misinformed. Every time I’ve been in a store they are all huddled around the front laughing and joking with one another. They seem more interested in horsing around than helping customers - which I have barely seen since I’ve been in there. They’re not experts either. I’ve heard the salespeople talk very generally about products in the store. They don’t give good reasons for purchasing that product or try to sell it to you. Unfortunately, most Electronic Expresses are in smaller towns and for some reason, I get this air of superiority when I walk in as if they’re saying, “Well, if you don’t get it from us then you just won’t get it.” Uh, yes, I can get almost anything somewhere else, thank you very much. Also, when I’ve tried to check tablets and use them and navigate around them to play with them, some of them don’t work because they’re either locked out or not charged. Oh, and they don’t match prices with competitors or the internet - at least according to the sales rep I talked to.
Office Depot. I actually like Office Depot a lot, but I can’t understand how they’ve stuck around so long. Every single time I go into one of their stores it’s like a ghost town. I mean, literally, no one there. Sales reps are hard to find if you have a question. Products are arranged neatly, but you can’t play with some of them because they won’t turn on (not charged) or they have a password on them.
Best Buy. Ah, the kings of American electronic stores. And probably the worst. On two separate occasions, I have heard sales reps giving false information to a customer. Once I stood up and called out the rep, who then proceeded to argue with me on the wrong point. I'm no tech expert, but what he was telling him was wrong (he basically was saying that SSDs weren't all that great and were a "fad" that would probably disappear in a few years). But all that aside, the retail experience at a Best Buy is horrid. I took a picture of what a certain tablet display looked like: a mangled mess of cords with tablets stacked messily on top of one another. Near closing time I would have expected this. Not at two o'clock in the afternoon. If you’re selling something, you need to be constantly arranging it in a nice, presentable way, no matter how many times a day you have to do it because people come in there and just play with a device and throw it down anywhere. Target understands this - they have people on staff who do nothing but arrange things on shelves all day. I’ve seen them do it, and if you look hard enough, you will too. Target understands that whether you’re selling garbage bags or high-end tablets, presentation is everything. Perception is reality to a customer, and it helps Target because their stores are always neat and clean, their shelves are always tidy, they have great prices and they have a better image than some bigger chains do.
I have bought an astounding number of things on Amazon since signing up for Amazon Prime last year - which gives you access to Amazon Instant Video on a variety of devices AND free two-day shipping on most items. Amazon is beating retail stores primarily because of prices, but also for convenience. I live in a small town an hour away from the nearest large city. Why would I drive up to Nashville to hope that I find what I need, when I can just pull it up on Amazon and have it purchased inside 30 seconds and at my door 48 hours later? The answer is that I wouldn’t.
Amazon has figured out the formula, while it seems that other retail chains aren’t even trying. Never before in the history of retail has a company carved so much out of the market. Amazon is the future, and sure, while you can’t shop for things like clothes and shoes on Amazon, I’m sure they’re working on a way to figure that out as we speak.