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Amazon Dash Brings the Store Home

BY Dan Berthiaume

A few months ago, Amazon.com made a disruptive splash in the world of home delivery with the announcement of its drone project. The new Amazon Dash mobile ordering device for AmazonFresh customers may not be as attention-grabbing as unmanned aircraft bringing goods to your door, but its potential to disrupt how consumers select and purchase items is much greater.

First, a brief Amazon Dash primer. Dash is a portable wand-shaped device that allows users to automatically add items to their AmazonFresh shopping lists. Customers can scan items with the gadget, or speak them into a microphone for voice-based search. It reportedly recognizes more than 1 million items for sale on AmazonFresh and Amazon.com.

The idea is as soon as a consumer runs out of a replenishable item, like a gallon of milk or box of cereal, they use Dash to automatically enter it on their AmazonFresh shopping list, eliminating the need to go to the store to replace it. Take a moment to digest what this potentially means to paradigm of shopping for consumer goods and then read on.

The Home as Physical Store
E-commerce turned the home into a virtual store a long time ago, which has been a driving factor in the rise of omni-channel and seamless commerce in recent years. But Amazon Dash turns the home into an actual physical store where the products consumers buy are tangibly present.

It’s one thing to have to remember to go and add an item to an online shopping list, but quite another to scan it or add it by voice as you are looking at it. The consumer’s cabinet becomes the physical shelf, eliminating the need to visit the shelves in a brick-and-mortar store. Which leads to…

The Death of Incremental Sales
Retailers owe a good chunk of their profitability to unplanned, incremental sales. A customer who visits a store to buy a gallon of milk realizes when they get there that a box of cookies would go great with that milk, or notices a great sale on peanut butter as they approach the milk aisle.

In addition to stealing sales on items consumers plan to buy from brick-and-mortar retailers, Amazon Dash also kills off opportunities to reap incremental sales. That’s a one-two punch many brick-and-mortar stores might have a tough time recovering from.

Brand Loyalty Comes Back in Vogue
Brand loyalty among consumers is weaker than it used to be, resulting from factors such as increased price sensitivity and consumer overexposure to marketing. But a consumer who automatically replenishes goods with the wave of an Amazon Dash wand will inherently become brand loyal, out of simple convenience. This is good news for leading brands, not so good news for newer or less popular brands, or retailers running brand promotions.

What To Do
So what should brick-and-mortar retailers do to respond to this new threat to traditional store-based retailing? Right now Amazon Dash is only available by invite to members of the AmazonFresh program, which serves consumers in Southern California, San Francisco and Seattle. Suffice it to say brick-and-mortar retail will not be “dashed” to ruin anytime soon.

But Amazon Dash represents a larger trend of the continuing erasure of boundaries among brick-and-mortar, online and mobile. It effectively blurs all three of these major retail channels into one unified experience. That is the direction brick-and-mortar retailers need to start heading, if they haven’t already, because Amazon Dash is disruptive today but will represent the norm in the not-so-distant future.


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Hot Topic looks to win with dark Angelina film

BY CSA STAFF

Teen retailer Hot Topic is using the appeal of the pre-order and a Disney film tailor made for its core customers to encourage full margin sales and drive traffic to HotTopic.com.

The retailer is featuring a limited edition collection of apparel inspired by Disney’s dark anti-hero “Maleficent,” on its Web site for pre-order beginning April 15. Merchandise will be available in stores and online in May with prices ranging from $29.50 to $54.50.

Hot Topic describes its core customers as rebellious and expressive teens which make a merchandising tie in with the movie a perfect fit. Maleficent is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the classic “Sleeping Beauty.” The film reveals the events that hardened Maleficent’s heart and drove her to curse the baby, Aurora, only to later realize that the child may hold the key to peace in the land. The collection is dark and mysterious like Maleficent herself, according to Hot Topic.

“There is so much we instantly loved about Maleficent – the complex story behind this beloved villain, the breathtaking scenery and the striking costumes,” said Cindy Levitt, SVP of merchandising and marketing at Hot Topic. “We just knew we had to design a dark and edgy collection – because it’s exactly the kind of fashion our customers love.”

The “Maleficent” fashion collection includes seven pieces. All are black, designed in striking fashion silhouettes, and feature distinctive details, including faux leather accents, lace trim, skull hardware and a Maleficent charm. For example, there is a corset hi-lo dress for $ 52.50, a wing hooded cape for $49.50 and something called an asymmetrical crow feather top for $32.50, in addition to several other signature pieces. Those looking for a little less of an extreme look will be able to choose from a wide range of Maleficent apparel and accessories including tees, dresses and jewelry.

Trailers for the film indicate Jolie is the perfect actress to portray Maleficent, a character whose once pure heart has been turned to stone. Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.

Hot Topic operates 640 mall-based stores with a product mix the company said offers music and pop culture junkies band-related apparel and accessories, licensed merchandise, and fashion apparel and accessories.

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L’Oréal Paris taps new celebrity hair colorist

BY CSA STAFF

L’Oréal Paris has added celebrity hair colorist Kari Hill to its roster of experts, the beauty brand announced.

With more than 15 years of experience coloring some of the most well-known manes in Hollywood, Hill’s artistic perspective lends to her mastery of varied hair coloring techniques. She will join L’Oréal Paris global consulting colorist Christophe Robin in lending her insights and expertise to trend forecasting, product development, content creation and consumer education for the brand.

In her new role, Hill will be sharing her knowledge and insider tips with all women to help them recreate trend-setting and salon-quality hair color results at home using Mousse Absolue.

"We are thrilled to welcome Kari to the L’Oréal Paris family," said Karen Fondu, president L’Oréal Paris. "Her creativity and diverse coloring abilities married with her passion for education will help us further our mission of empowering all women to become their own beauty expert."

Kari currently works out of the Meche Salon in the heart of Beverly Hills, Calif., and balances her salon schedule with client house-calls and hair color work for red carpet events, premieres, film, TV and print.

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