Amazon dramatically expanding retail presence through “pop-ups”

One interesting part about Amazon’s pop-up stores is that they’re run by the devices team, not the retail team that opened Amazon’s bookstore last year. The initiative is led by Senior Vice President of Devices and Services Dave Limp, who oversees everything from the Kindle to the Echo.  That means the push for more pop-up stores coincides with the success of the Echo, which is widely considered to be the next big hit product for Amazon. The Echo’s success has prompted rivals such as Google and, reportedly, Apple to develop competing versions.

According to multiple sources, Amazon is increasingly putting more resources to developing the Echo and its voice technology platform, Alexa — and the pop-up stores provide an important way to raise brand awareness for both products.

Another source said Amazon played with the pop-up store concept while the Echo was being developed in 2013, as it’s a way to let people play, hands-on, with its devices, especially the unusual ones like the Echo.

“Lowering the barriers to trial and letting people feel how things actually work is a great way to start,” this person said.

via: Business Insider

If I was a big box player I would not be pleased to be learning about this.  While  it appears to be a bit of an Amazon device-specific strategy given the nature of the current placements, these storefronts are going to normalize the physical interaction with the brand.  The smaller size also means they can be pretty nimble with how they get in front of people compared to the broader store scale.  Looking at the picture above and reading through the Business Insider piece, these are not the typical pop-up placements either … in fact in some cases the store are more like permanent installations.

In the past few months, Target has started to roll out a more focused format to help explain the smart home and connected devices …

dsc-1058-kitchen-1

I’ve seen this a bit in our local target and as you can note in that image there are use case scenarios lined up.  This is important compared to the more typical Best Buy shelf of things format where you are left on your own to discover what and why these devices are potentially interesting.  I’d say it’s certainly better than before, but also not that functional in demo … more of a display collection.  The Open House concept in San Francisco is a more demonstrative experience, but also not something that scales particularly well.

Amazon already has a Smart Home shop and another dedicated to things ranked on Product Hunt.  Adding in these locations that highlight how Alexa works … and how well it works with other things likely coming soon is very smart and could be a very competitive challenge to the more tradition shops who are all already trying to fight the habitual nature of Amazon.com.

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