INNOVATION: AMAZON AND ETALE SET TO EXPLORE THE NEW FRONTIER OF PHYSICAL RETAIL.

Amazon’s first bricks-and-mortar clothing and fashion store, ‘Amazon Style’, is set to open in Los Angeles later this year. Incorporating the use of its online shopping app, QR codes, and a myriad of other innovative technologies and machine learning algorithms, Amazon Style will aim to create a more pleasant and personalised physical shopping experience 

Shoppers will be able to use the Amazon Shopping App to scan an item’s QR code and have it sent to the checkout counter, view further product details, or have it delivered to their dressing room, where they can use a touchscreen to browse options and request more sizes or styles. Palm recognition technology will also be introduced at the checkout counters.

Linked with Amazon’s online shopping app, the users of the Amazon Shopping App will be able to continue their shopping once they have left the physical store. Items that are scanned whilst in the store will be saved in the users app so that they can later revisit and purchase these items online. Through the app, shoppers can also discover recommended items or brands, in real time, based on the clothing and brands that they scanned in the store. 

In a blog post, Amazon Style’s managing director, Simoina Vason, wrote “Our machine learning algorithms produce tailored, real-time recommendations for each customer as they shop,”.

Vason further wrote that “Amazon Style combines Amazon’s love of fashion with innovative technology and world-class operations to help customers find looks they’ll love,”. 

Rising eCommerce and physical retail in decline, is Amazon just market testing and experimenting?

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has brought further news of both the seemingly terminal decline of traditional physical retail stores and the rise of online shopping behemoths, Amazon’s expansion into the US physical retail sector over the past few years has caused speculation that it is experimental or seen as market testing. 

A board member of the industry trade group; International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), Adam W.Ifshin, rejects this speculation citing studies done by ICSC that forecast Amazon’s rise to the top, with eventually as many as 3,600 physical Amazon stores.

Ifshin instead argues that Amazon will become the dominant player in the physical retail industry, highlighting their intentions as “trying to become Walmart”. 

Ifshin argues that the reason behind Amazon’s move into the physical retail industry is unforeseen costs that have removed the advantage of not having stores and has shown that having stores is the most cost-effective way to acquire the customer and get the customer goods.

According to Amazon’s website, and under its several sub-brands, Amazon already owns and operates over 125 physical retail stores across the US, however they do not as extensively incorporate these high tech innovations and machine learning algorithms.

Bricks-and-mortar retail innovation is closer to home than you might think.

Australian Simon Molnar, and his new startup venture eTale, will launch its new and innovative smart chip technology at Afterpay’s new experiential retail space ‘The Edit Collection’. Simon Molnar is the brother of Nick Molnar who is the founder of the Australian ‘buy now pay later’ platform Afterpay.

eTale chips are attached to item tags and provide data on most tried on, engaged and sold pieces by tracking their in-store movements. Molnar’s eTale chips aim to provide bricks-and-mortar retailers with the same data and insights as the large eCommerce operators.

Australian bricks-and-mortar retailers are excited at this new innovative technology, with big name retailers already having signed on such as ‘The Academy Brand’ and ‘Venroy’.

Amazon and eTale’s planned coupling of high-tech innovation and machine learning algorithms with bricks-and-mortar retail shopping is exploring a brand new frontier in the physical retail industry.

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