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Amazon is launching a yearlong pilot program that will see over 100 small online brands sell at 10 "Clicks and Mortar" pop-up shops in the UK, according to a press release.
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The program — powered by a partnership between Amazon, Square, small business support network Enterprise Nation, and business insurance provider Direct Line for Business — will include brands selling products ranging from scooters to skincare.
The results of the pilot will also be submitted to the UK government to aid in its effort to find new strategies to reinvigorate local physical retail, according to TechCrunch.
Here’s what it means: Amazon joins the ranks of companies helping e-commerce pureplays sell in-store, but its retail expertise and size may make it particularly successful in the space.
- Other companies like Shopify, Macy’s, and b8ta also help online brands try to take advantage of the brick-and-mortar opportunity. These companies have done so through pop-up shops, like Amazon’s approach, and permanent stores. The online merchants are looking to gain greater exposure and the chance to boost their sales across channels — opening a new store has been shown to boost web traffic, according to a study by the International Council of Shopping Centers — while the solutions providers are trying to add new tools to entice clients, boost their own traffic, or become leading players in the developing store-as-a-service solutions space.
- Amazon may be able to stand out from competitors in the space thanks to its e-commerce dominance and capabilities.The Seattle-based e-tailer can leverage its strengths by working with merchants that already sell on its marketplace and facilitating inventory management and omnichannel orders with Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Amazon’s standing and services could lead brands to work with it over other store-as-a-service competitors if it expands the initiative in the future.
The bigger picture: Clicks and Mortar may be the next step in Amazon’s physical expansion, as it’s been reevaluating its pop-up network.
The e-tailer closed all of its US pop-up kiosks in April, possibly in a move to take more control of its physical presence, and Clicks and Mortar could be its next step in that process. Those kiosks were in other stores, limiting Amazon’s ability to do what it wanted in brick-and-mortar.
With Clicks and Mortar, Amazon should have full control over the space, allowing it to not only provide space for online brands but Amazon Lockers as well — at least the first location will feature them, according to The Guardian — making its physical network more valuable to it.
So, if Amazon does expand Clicks and Mortar beyond the 10 planned UK locations, the initiative would help it compete in the store-as-a-service space, diversify its portfolio of physical locations, and give it more stores to provide omnichannel services from.
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