I read a great article this morning from Michael Corkery of the New York Times detailing how other retailers have learned Amazon’s lessons and are reinvigorating the in-store experience. Those efforts are paying off (at least at the big retailers) with sales growth at Target, Walmart, and Best Buy – just to name a few.
He makes the conclusion that Amazon was the catalyst for these changes – that (my words, not his) Amazon is a sort of retail arsonist, burning down the last vestiges of shitty in-store experiences and hastening the death of the likes of Sears and Kmart.
I think that view gives Amazon a bit too much credit, and I’m not sure Bezos needs the ego boost. I prefer to think of Amazon as a harsh exfoliant. Once it rubs away the dead skin of poor retail experiences, the good skin shines through – healthier than ever. That’s because, frankly, for all the hype surrounding ecommerce, online shopping remains only 10% of overall sales. Yes, it’s more in certain categories, but the in-store experience remains a critical part of the mix. Amazon has been an important part making retail healthy, but it’s the forward-thinking traditional retailers who are fixing it.