How Bricks and Mortar Can Combat Amazon

Let’s look at one scary fact: 64 percent of American households have Amazon Prime*

And one scary quote: “I think that effectively you have a company that has conspired with about a million consumers and technology to destroy brands.” -Scott Gallaway, NYU Stern School of Business speaking at L2’s Amazon Clinic

Many retailers we speak with will tell you that Amazon is their main competition. We know you’re not surprised. You may even experience “Amazon guilt” when you hit the purchase button instead of swiping your credit card in a store.

But there’s hope for the bricks and mortars of the world.

1. Time is really money. Help people save it.

Order online and pick up in store is now nothing new. But retailers are innovating beyond that as well. Walmart’s blog recently shared this about some NextGen testing they are doing in store.


“Need your deli order, fast? These stores test a new appointment and ordering kiosk system where you place your order, go shopping, then come back to quickly pick it up. If the initial test in the deli area goes well, it could be expanded to pharmacy, Auto Care Center, beauty salon or anywhere ordering and appointment setting occurs.”**

Take those extra steps to save people time and be sure to tout your commitment to their satisfaction.


2. Heighten the fun. Make it a social event. 

Have you ever seen a group of people shopping for clothes or gifts together? There’s often a lot of joking and evaluating each other’s clothing choices. Surprisingly, other people regularly join in the conversation. People like to get input on how something looks on them or whether the blue chair or the grey chair will be better in the living room. Encourage shoppers to send photos to BFFs for their thumbs up/thumbs down. It spreads the word about your merchandise and about your brand.


3. Create a community.

Home Depot has been doing this for some time with its DIY class offerings. Running shoe stores often offer running clubs or marathon training classes. If this is where one goes to get better at something, this is where one goes to buy more items for their craft. Find passion areas to rally people around and give them the space and expertise to express themselves.


Check what Staples is doing to reinvigorate its brand and its business:

“Staples isn’t just for office supplies or printing anymore. Three of the company’s Massachusetts stores now include happy hour, retro music, and mod seating — that is, it’s adding coworking spaces.

Partnered with Boston-based Workbar, Staples’s coworking spaces feature hip music, funky art and a putting green. The pivot comes in response to years of staggering in-store sales and closures.”***


4. Incorporate the element of surprise.

Ever walked out of Target or Costco with exactly what you intended to buy and only that? Nope, me neither. That’s because those retailers are great at encouraging one to explore. Is this counter to the idea of saving time? Maybe, but brands like Target are up for tackling both challenges. Earlier this year, Target announced that it will be testing a “two-entrance” concept—one entrance that leads to those quick-in-and-out items like grocery or pharmacy, the other entrance leading to exclusive brand offerings and seasonal items worthy of browsing. Find ways to have hidden gems in your experience so shopping doesn’t get stale.


5. Showcase your inspiration.

REI and Patagonia do a great job of demonstrating their commitment to both what they sell and to your experience. REI has been known to replace shipped packages that were stolen off a consumer’s porch … for free. How’s that for ensuring that the consumer got to go on her camping trip?! Patagonia has its value system on display with calls to “take action” on important environmental issues such as the fight against oil pipeline development and its offer to trade in used Patagonia items for a credit on another item. If you love what you sell, if you love what you do, share that loud and proud. That emotion will drive interest and prompt others to show their love as well.


Yes, the fight against Amazon is hard, but there are many businesses doing it right. Keep up the good work!


*Forbes, June 2017

**Walmart “A Look Inside Walmart’s Next-Gen Test Stores,” May 2017

***Entrepreneur, “Staples Opens Coworking Space,” March 2017