The New Retail

Here’s one of the ideas that could be extremely lucrative until the tide changes and the master takes control.  By that I’m referring to cases where the market fills a need until the need is fulfilled natively.  For example, a lot of add-ons, plug-ins, and utilities are written to work around shortcomings of software apps, either online or otherwise.  This is great, until the application developer writes the functionality into the main program, making all the plug-ins unnecessary.  The plug-in writers lose a potential large chunk of customers and if they aren’t on to the next big thing, they’re out of business.

My idea is one of those things that is probably going to be inevitable, so it’s really a matter of how quickly can someone implement this and can they bank enough and have a solid enough exit strategy to not lose it all when the hammer falls.  And I’m talking about an Amazon-sized hammer.

Enough teasing.  This is the idea: Create a showroom for Amazon products and provide ordering stations that use Amazon’s affiliate program to gain revenue.

So what does this take?  Lots of space and either enough money to buy floor samples or a really good salesperson to convince manufacturers to provide a free floor model for promotion.  Considering the current retail apocalypse, space is easy to come by.  But, I’m going to predict, Amazon is going to eventually do this themselves and no one is going to compete at the scale of which they are capable.

But let’s give some consideration to the idea in general.  We know that retail is dying and most all sales are moving online.  But there are some products that you really want to see and touch and experience before you purchase them.  Furniture is a strong example.  Appliances can also be in that category.  These are large purchases.  But to a lesser degree, electronics are also something people want to see in action.

What happens now is people go to a retailer and get their touchy-feely on, then go to Amazon and buy it for less, screwing the retailer.  So then, let’s just eliminate the retailer and use their space for what it was used for anyway – showrooming.  Wipe out all their back-room space for stock and open it up for more display.  Also, invite manufacturer representatives.  Schedule demonstrations.  Or even better, take it to the next level.

Schedule shootout demos.  Have three or more competing products and have a representative pitch their product to a crowd.  It’s totally different when you’re at a store that specializes in one brand; there’s no competition.  But put against each other, there has to be a more honest product placement strategy.  It’s not a battle royale with one winner.  It’s a legitimate selling point to say your vacuum cleaner doesn’t have the power of a Dyson because maybe you only have two rooms of carpet.  So why spend so much on a tool that would be used so little?  Record the show and put it on a video channel.

But, I digress.  This concept is about creating a showroom to sell Amazon products.  Now to make the money.  Every product would have a digital sign which would display the current price, availability, and a QR code to place an order.  The QR code would contain an affiliate code so the showroom gets a small portion of the sale.  There could also be kiosks around the store to place orders or look up more information on larger screens.

And that’s the income concept in a nutshell.  Maybe you could sell off floor models when they get discontinued for some extra income.  Maybe manufacturers would pay you to have a premium display.  So what would the expenses be?  Rent, utilities, a small amount of labor, typical things like insurance and licenses.  But rent would be the biggest expense.  Now, how much would you need to sell to make enough affiliate income to cover all those expenses?  Well, I don’t know.  I didn’t do any research to see if this idea was even feasible.  It’s just an idea.

And feasible or not, it’s only a matter of time before Amazon decides to do it themselves.  They could buy an entire mall and turn it into a massive showroom for their products, plus a Whole Foods.  They would have the clout to negotiate free samples from manufacturers, or just use customer returns.  They have the means to create closeout, as-is centers in their showrooms to sell off excess inventory.

Maybe the future of retail is stockless.  You never walk out with anything, it always gets shipped to you.

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