It seems to me that Dick's and REI's core customers are a bit different - I've always associated REI with a more local, socially-conscious message, but this play by Dick's maybe tells us which category spends more. It will be interesting to see in which market(s) they launch and if, as others have noted, Dick's can pull customers away from premium brands like REI, Patagonia, et al.
As we've seen in other retail verticals, brick-and-mortar is just one channel in an omnichannel strategy. The retailers that have done well, have embraced BOPIS/curb-side and have extensively researched which items perform better online vs in-stores and resourced inventory appropriately to draw consumers into physical locations.
GameStop's success is going to be in how well it can convince current and future generations of gamers that they are a credible brand worth identifying with and buying from -- and this is an uphill challenge. Streamers represent the most effective affiliate marketing and influencer channel. But Amazon (via e-commerce and Twitch) and Google (via YouTube, search and, soon, Stadia) control the influence-to-purchase pipeline.
The perennial popularity of conventions proves that gamers are willing to physically convene and spend money despite the rising popularity of digital. Ironically, the only thing that GameStop has going for it is the physical location, but it couldn't come at a worse time. With COVID, it will be at least a year before that strategy would bear fruit.
As gamers would say, "press F to pay respects" for GameStop.
While I think the picture in the article doesn't do the retailer's strategy justice (e.g. the "modular pedestals for individual play" aren't shown), money made today is certainly not worth the cost to a business of being labeled a COVID-19 hotspot.
C-suite executives should absolutely keep their negative opinions from store associates during store visits. They have managers at every level between them and the store associates who are responsible for executing their vision - if they perceive failure at the associate level, there has been failure at the subsequent managerial level. If anything, it's a good opportunity for C-suite executives to ask themselves about their level of engagement with the vision as it's executed in stores and the culture of management that they've established between HQ and the average associate.
Simply put, Amazon is trying to disrupt the wholesale distribution market. It's not about SMB inventory - it's about the recurring delivery of goods to markets that are served by proprietary last-mile delivery from wholesalers like Sysco, W.B. Mason, etc. But it does need to work for SMBs to be successful.
The test of success will not be in hardware. Rather it will be, how well can the software meet the real needs of supply chain inventory replenishment? They only work with a single product - what if that product is out of stock at the vendor (as was the case for many products at the beginning of, and throughout, the pandemic)? Can SMBs, who take a bigger hit to the bottom line from price fluctuations, specify their preferred price point from multiple vendors?
I could go on with the examples. I find myself wondering: is the value of the time an SMB spends reordering single items from the same vendors more than the cost of an Amazon Smart Shelf per product? Probably not.
While this definitely sets the "robot takeover" narrative back, I think the real takeaway is that autonomous robots didn't fit Walmart's plans specifically for automated shelf inventory. While I firmly believe that there are certain retail store interactions that will always require a human touch, to quote a famous robot, "[they'll] be back!"
This is the right play for Petco but, as others have pointed out, Petco will need to ensure that its associates are capable of providing customers with credible pet health and wellness guidance on products and services. All of the strategy, branding, and product assortments in the world are wasted if retailers aren't providing stores with the context and training they need to delight customers. This highlights the increasing burden placed on associates -- in today's world, they're expected to handle the entire customer journey from initial greeting through checkout.
The more I think about this as an analogy, what Amazon is to physical goods but for services, the more I like this as a business. Amazon customers can now purchase digital services through the Amazon ecosystem (user accounts, payment processing, AWS) without leaving their homes. It's a solid translation of the original Amazon value proposition that probably would've been five years away without COVID-19. As a consumer, I don't get it - but I don't need to get it for it to be successful. It'll be very interesting to see how this does.