Amazon launching same-day delivery at UK newsagents and a bricks-and-mortar store in New York has forced a reassessment of the retail landscape.

When ecommerce first arrived, the battle for success was seen as binary; the web would kill the high street or vice versa.

However, the shape of the current retail landscape seems to indicate a more nuanced outcome. Rather than retail heading online, it seems that a new balance between on and offline is being drawn, with multichannel becoming more of a focus for retailers than ever before.

“Amazon no longer wants to be a faceless online brand”

Darryl Adie, managing director of Ampersand

This week, Amazon has made it clear that being a pure play retailer isn’t enough. It no longer wants to be a faceless online brand and is instead embracing a more customer-focused approach.

Its first steps to achieve this goal are its launch of a physical store in New York and the provision of same-day delivery in the UK in response to consumer demand for instant gratification in their retail experience.

Amazon has understood that providing great customer service means it needs to be physically close to its customers.

EBay’s physical presence

The company has taken note of eBay’s success with its click-and-collect offering (which is now available at 650 Argos stores) but has developed a more appealing approach through forging a physical closeness to its customers by partnering with local newsagents as collection centres.

The message for other online retailers is that in order to compete, an optimised delivery service based around a multichannel experience is vital. 

Like Amazon, pure-play retailers everywhere need a physical presence in order to move beyond the slow speed associated with online ordering and to take real ownership of the customer experience. 

As a result, within the next 12 months more pure plays will move to a bricks-and-clicks model, opening stores as brand centres or click-and-collect venues and giving shoppers a real life interface with the brand.

As pure plays gain close proximity to consumers, pressure will be put on physical retailers as they try to compete. They will need to provide a faster, more convenient and personalised service to be compelling.

It’s a cliché to say that the future of retail is multichannel but it’s a cliché because it’s true.

Consumers love much about the convenience and price of online, but they show no signs of completely abandoning what they’ve always liked about physical stores.

Until they do, retailers need to aim for the best of both worlds.

  • Darryl Adie, managing director of Ampersand