Amazon’s Retail Plans

It’s all the Lydians’ fault.  The Lydians were a people who lived in what’s now Eastern Turkey in the second millennium BC.  Herodotus, writing around 450 BC, tells us this about them:

“…the Lydians lived their lives in a way not dissimilar to the Greeks.  So far as we know they were the first people ever to strike gold and silver coins, and to use them: the result was the invention of shopping.”

Now I grant you, without shopping we wouldn’t have much of an industry.  Still, I fault the Lydians for, apparently, starting with brick and mortar rather than just coming up with the internet as long as they were inventing shopping anyway.

Larger multistore retailers are finding they’ve got the wrong number of stores in the wrong places with the wrong configurations for the omnichannel world.  I’m beginning to think the biggest tactical advantage a retailer can have is leases that are expiring, or that they can get out of for other reasons, sooner rather than later.  The biggest strategic advantage may be quality customer information.

Amazon has no constraints imposed by legacy leases and, as I consider what they know about me and my buying habits, better information than any other retailer I buy from.  For one thing, I can’t use cash.  And they’ve set up their operations to collect and parse that data.

I wonder, just sort of as an aside, if some of their most important data doesn’t come from what people look at and don’t buy.

As Amazon enters brick and mortar, as described in this New York Times Magazine article, they start with no constraints on number of stores, configuration or location and, I suspect, better customer data than almost anybody.

Enjoy, if that’s the right word, the article.