Why Would Anyone Believe Amazon Would Create Good Retail Experiences?

Why Would Anyone Believe Amazon Would Create Good Retail Experiences?
Photo by Ivars Utināns / Unsplash

Just an observer (and shareholder) here; one who would like to hit publish on something on a Friday. I think I have an observation to add about experience, which is something I'm particularly interested in.

Amazon is closing its bookstores and 4-star shops. Everything but groceries and fashion.

I was reading Neil Cybart's Above Avalon newsletter discussing this news, and this paragraph stuck out at me:

This brings us to the heart of Amazon’s strategy shift. There just wasn’t a good reason for Amazon 4-star stores to exist. People aren’t interested in consuming a physical manifestation of the Amazon experience. Instead, for most people Amazon boils down to convenient online shopping and ordering. (Link $)

This is spot on (bold highlight is mine). But, it calls to mind an observation.

Amazon's online shopping is a lot of good things, but it's not a great experience. Three examples:

  1. There are simply too many ads. I realize they need to make money, but if I search for something super-specific it means I want that thing. An ad or two is OK, but at some point you've gotta be wondering "is search working" if the first ten results are not what I'm searching for (note, I'm talking about specific search like .
  2. Let's pick on books for a second because that's their longest-served market. My kids are now reading (yay!). Kids books, often come in series. Currently, my oldest is reading The Last Kids on Earth. And, he loves Dragon Masters. Do you know how hard it is to figure out the order of the books in these series? And, often these searches are interspersed with other random books making it even harder. If it knows which ones I've purchased, and I search for the series, why doesn't it put the next one right on top? Why doesn't it simply present the series in order from one through eighteen (or whatever number they're up to)? And, if I want to order a bunch at a time, the flow is horrible. I could go on, but you get the point. It's certainly not optimized for the shopper experience, at least not the "busy parent shopper" experience.
  3. Whole Foods is even worse. I could search for "Whole Foods brand 365 organic coconut water" and for the love of anything holy, the result just makes me want to throw my computer out the window and walk over to the store (where I almost never go in person because checking out makes me scream "doesn't anyone here know queuing theory?!"). And, their staff has only a 50% success rate identifying Cilantro from other leafy green things when I order home delivery. Why would they tell me they have everything when I order, but then deliver all ingredients for a recipe but one?!

Writing this post, I wanted to be accurate. So I checked. Here are the first three results for the search "Gillette mach 3 razor cartridges"... all three are books. And, then it displays a bunch of results... but how about first "would you like to reorder the last product called this that you ordered"?

If that's the experience being ported to brick-and-mortar... what I'm wondering really is:

What makes anyone think that a company which doesn't have a laser-focus on shopper experience can all of a sudden develop one?