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Amazon: Retail innovator or just clever PR?

Amazon: Retail innovator or just clever PR?

As my Skype pings, it is Sophie… “Amazon is looking to launch their own fashion label!!!”

And as she fuels my Amazon obsession I start to think to myself, has Amazon really become the God of retail or do they just have an insanely clever PR team?

I have several clients that operate within the retail technology space, so I have come to know and love some of the technical innovations that have appeared over the past few years. From beacons to behavioural marketing, EPOS to ecommerce, the retail environment is changing at a phenomenal pace and the rise of Amazon in particular has quickly become a guilty pleasure of mine.

Not only because they come up with technical innovations at a pace like no other, but because they are also an excellent PR engine. Their strapline is “It’s our job to make bold bets, and we get our energy from inventing on behalf of customers.” and boy do they make bold bets.

Let’s just take a minute to look at the bold bets they have made just in the last year.

  • Amazon Go – a supermarket run by robots!
  • Amazon Echo – A huge step towards Artificial Intelligence within our homes.
  • Amazon Air – Will drones be delivering your parcels from flying warehouses!? Who knows!
  • Amazon Dash – Push the button and your groceries will appear (tomorrow).
  • Amazon Pantry – food, snacks and breakfast delivered on demand.

And the latest announcement – Amazon Fashion.

So are Amazon the world’s most innovative retailer, or are they just a very good PR engine?

If they continue in the current direction, Amazon appear to be attempting to make the retail world not only paperless, but peopleless. All of their developments promote a digital retail environment which effectively means no more shop assistants or delivery drivers, replaced instead with a world full of Alexas and drones. The rise of digital may sound appealing to some but is it really possible? And are they cleverly planning a complete digital revolution of retail?

There is no doubt that they are at the forefront of retail innovation when it comes to new ideas and pilots, but are we really going to have ‘Independence Day’ style flying warehouses above each city feeding drones hundreds of parcels for one hour delivery windows? Probably not!

However, Amazon’s PR team have done a magnificent job at making sure the weird and wonderful ideas that Amazon come up with are cleverly placed in the press. And let’s face it, it works. They are at the forefront of the national and trade news on a regular basis and they are always a topic of conversation in the Neo PR office.

But are their ideas all fabricated and cleverly PR’ed in a dark room in the Amazon office, with many of them never intending to ever be a reality? We will probably never know. But what we do know is that people love to hear about Amazon’s crazy ideas for the next generation of retail. And even though I don’t think we will be replacing store associates with peopleless transactions, and delivery drivers with drones anytime soon, I do love the idea of the keeping creative with retail.

It is clear that as consumers crave technical innovation so must the shopping environment. We can no longer deny that the merge of online and offline is coming, it is just a question on how long it will take to become a reality.

What are your thoughts on Amazon? Or maybe you have some crazy retail predictions for the coming years? Tweet us @NeoPRltd

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