Report: I set foot in an Amazon store for the “four-star” experience

Image: Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNet.

On paper, the plan was brilliant. Failed brick-and-mortar retail stores take over low-cost space and sell the most popular items on your brick-and-mortar retail website. And use them as an order pick-up location to reduce your shipping costs.

One can imagine the beautiful essay presented to Jeff Bezos on the subject. You can imagine his smirk when he read it. But somehow, this brick-and-mortar retail project didn’t have the success Amazon hoped. Recently, the company announced that it was closing all of its 68 bookstores, four-star stores and Pop Ups.

Having never been there before, I decided to try the experiment and visit a place to understand what could have gone wrong. I found a four star store in the California bay, walked in, and believe me, my experience didn’t deserve multiple stars.

Products of all kinds

The store was mostly empty of people, but it still looked cluttered and untidy. Children’s toys were piled up next to business books. Kitchen utensils competed for space next to office products. It was like going to the Amazon homepage not knowing what I really wanted.

There was no organization, no logistical considerations to try to guide you through some sort of shopping experience. We were just supposed to think that everything here was supposed to be good, even though it often seems like most products on Amazon have at least a four-star rating.

Do I really want to go to a physical store to find that other people in that area are buying frying pans from such a brand? Do I need a frying pan of this brand? Do I really have to be like other Bay Area residents?

And, by the way, did I miss something? Has TikTok become the place to get reading recommendations? Still, there was quite a display of BookTok’s favorite reads there. Did Amazon have to import recommendations from an app that sings and dances? All these questions were swirling around in my head.

A “one star” experience on the way out

I ended up seeing a cutting board for $45. I suddenly remembered that we needed one, because ours had started to split from my inexpert cuts.

So I picked her up and brought her to the counter. The very nice saleswoman charged me only 29 dollars. I really don’t know why.

“Was this place frequented before? ” I asked. “He was at Christmas,” she replied. “Everyone was looking for last-minute gifts. I asked when the store was closing. “The 19th,” she said. “We weren’t notified long in advance. »

I sense your surprise. This type of store was, of course, just one of Amazon’s experiments. Some of its retail concepts, such as cashless stores, are still expanding. Maybe because it’s a more original idea than “let’s make a homemade mini stuff store and tell people it’s good”. I couldn’t imagine anyone actively seeking out any of these four-star stores, which seemed to be based on a totally flawed idea: that people would want to see the four-star products in person. By a kind of fascination, you understand.

Amazon may be admired for its convenience and efficiency, but perhaps not so much for its ability to inspire people to make an effort. I can’t say the company has done anything to entice me to visit a Whole Foods store since they bought it. Just like I can’t say she did anything to make me feel that a four star store was anything but a one star experience.


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