Amazon introduced its first brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle – the company’s home city – in 2015.
Showrooming is when a person visits a store to look at an item but purchases the item online instead. This action usually occurs because the item is available online at a much lower price. But with Amazon’s physical stores, who will consumers turn to online?
At current there are eleven Amazon bookstores and plans to open two more. The bookstores are a physical extension of amazon.com and integrate the benefits of offline and online shopping to help consumers find books and devices they’ll love. Books are selected based on amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads and curator’s assessments. They choose to place books face-out on the shelves, so each can “communicate its own essence” and under each book is a review card with customer ratings and reviews. By doing this, has Amazon diminished the opportunity for consumers to showroom with the introduction of their brick and mortar stores?
It is common practice for consumers to enter a high street bookstore, such as Waterstones or W.H. Smith, pick up a book, read the blurb or an excerpt, maybe check out the reviews printed on it and then use their mobile phones to Google where they can find the book at a much cheaper price. Amazon is the first result and a purchase is made.
This is a regular action carried out by mobile-assisted shoppers. 38.1% of shoppers according to a report by the Columbia Business School. Ask any consumer who the cheapest online bookseller is and the answer will always be Amazon. Founded in 1994, Amazon began as an online bookstore, with books “priced close to cost, in order to increase sales volume.” This framework is what enabled Amazon to become the best online retailer in the world.
To answer the original question: yes, Amazon has diminished the opportunity for consumers to showroom with the introduction of their eleven brick and mortar stores. If a consumer chooses to visit their physical stores it is because they have expectations/previous experience/some knowledge on Amazon books being the cheapest available, therefore there is no longer the desire or need to showroom. Outside of the U.S.A however, the action will still occur and that is simply because the physical bookstores have not been introduced. Yet.