In 2011, Amazon launched Amazon Lockers, which allows Amazon shoppers to place orders via the web and then very conveniently pick up their purchases at brick-and-mortar retailers. An idea that appeared to seamlessly bridge online and offline commerce hit a snag last week when both Staples and Radio Shack pulled out of the program. It’s not too surprising since Amazon is one of the two retailers’ biggest competitors. But the question remains whether or not Staples and Radio Shack had the right technology to do the most comprehensive testing to procure the insights they needed to make such a big decision? When millions of Amazon’s brown boxes crisscross the nation on a daily basis, wouldn’t this enormous number actually translate into increased foot traffic and perhaps sales?
A Staples spokesperson told Bloomberg that Amazon “didn’t meet the criteria we set up together.” A RadioShack spokesperson said Amazon’s “locker program didn’t fit into RadioShack’s move forward strategy.” Sounds pretty anecdotal. Where’s the data to back up these statements?
As brick-and-mortar retailers add innovative programs such as Amazon Lockers to continue to bridge the online and offline gap, it’s critical to understand their direct impact on sales and the customer experience. In the past, there were so many operational unknowns, but now it is possible for brick-and-mortar retailers to get detailed, reliable, and easily understood measurement of how shoppers behave in their stores that provide insights that retailers can use to make smart decisions. Retailers should measure and understand the answers to questions like:
- Traffic: How many shoppers came to pick up their Amazon products and then stayed shopping in the store? How do the Lockers impact store traffic and sales?
- Impulse Buys: Do the stores with Amazon Lockers see more impulse purchases or upsell opportunities, and what’s the impact on sales, margin, and profitability?
- Geography: How do the stores with Amazon Lockers perform compared to those without? How do these stores perform in certain regions? (e.g. Do they perform best next to universities?)
- Location: Does the actual location of the Amazon Lockers affect store sales? Does putting them in certain areas of the store impact shopper traffic or purchasing patterns?
- Demographics: Which demographics (gender/age) does your store target and do these demographics match up with those using the Amazon Lockers?
- Staffing: Are employee hours being wasted explaining how to use Amazon Lockers? Or do they present opportunities for more employee/shopper interaction that lead to sales?
Just this week eBay announced its answer to Amazon Lockers: “Click and Collect”. But instead of lockers, eBay purchases will be held at pick-up points within brick-and-mortar retailers. This is yet another great opportunity for savvy retailers to test and measure this important new source of data and strive to understand the effect on their business.