p>The current rumor is that Amazon will be entering the offline retail space in 2012. Following in the footsteps of other large tech/web companies like Apple and Microsoft, Amazon believes they now have the consumer products to fill up a tangible storefront and hopes to increase sales with the added incentive of "in-person consumption." We all know that being able to see and touch a product leads to higher conversion rates, but is the Kindle product a good enough reason for Amazon to make such a bold move?
I have a lot of thoughts on this and I'd like to share some of them with you.
First of all, never bet against a guy like Jeff Bezos. Over the years, he has done a countless number of impressive and unexpected things with the Amazon brand. He's acquired major companies, he's disrupted the publishing world, and most recently, he is proving that a less expensive product, even if you lose money on each sale, equals more market (and mind) share and creates lifelong customer loyalty. What he has done with the new Kindle Fire is arguably just as impressive as the unveiling of the first generation iPad (at least to me). It's still an e-Reader (not a tablet), yet it's carving it's own sub-section of tablet/reader hybrid products. And let's not overlook the Silk browser. The caching technology alone is as innovative as something like a browser can be. I can't wait to see how Silk disrupts browsing on the computer in 2012.
Next, if the aforementioned rumors are true, Amazon's retail stores will be a whole lot more than just Kindles. Bezos has apparently been secretly working on a broad collection of retail products that can be offered under the Amazon label. I know this sounds risky, less-focused, and out of scope for an online company like Amazon, but again, Bezos is doing this for a reason. If you can pick up some other amazing products while you're in a store shopping for a Kindle, you're going to do it - especially if you already love the Kindle and have shopped with Amazon for several years already. After all, isn't Amazon known for having just about everything on their site?
That leads me to my next point. Amazon has done their time. They've served billions of customers over the years. In order to continue being an innovative technology company as oppose to just being a stale e-commerce site, they have to continue to grow. How else can Amazon's products reach the older generations that deserve to read from a Kindle? It's much easier to sell a newbie on a product when their grandchild begs them to go into a store because they have been shopping at Amazon online for 7 years. From that, more eyeballs will generate even more sales - but it all stems from the trust that they have built with the world over time.
There is no stopping Jeff Bezos anytime soon. I will continue to follow his every move as an entrepreneur as he continues to innovate and disrupt any of the markets he can touch. It's a real pleasure to watch him.
What do you think about Bezos? Please leave your comments below.