Retailers must turn stores into ‘anything engines’
Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from WayfinD, a quarterly e-magazine filled with insights, trends and predictions from the retail and foodservice experts at WD Partners.
There is no such thing as a store anymore.
Stores exist in a three-dimensional space, but they are one-dimensional in function. You can only buy stuff there, and usually only a specific category of goods or services. Now, consider Amazon: It not only sells whatever it wants, it does whatever it wants.
Amazon is more than The Everything Store — it’s an “anything engine.”
What exactly is an anything engine? It gets us whatever we want, however we want it, pretty much now. Anything isn’t merely product — it’s also information, videos, photos and communication that can get delivered immediately.
Digital natives are now accustomed to companies that can do everything. That’s one reason why what we used to call stores can’t survive today. They are good for one thing: transactions. If stores want to survive, they must become anything engines, too.
The first convention to get rid of is the age-old focus on transactions and purchase first. Store brands must also finally reject the outdated metrics of same-store sales. When there’s no-such-thing-as-a-store, there’s no such thing as same-store sales, either. And who is already taking these steps? Amazon, Apple and Tesla.
The Amazon credo is simple: It tries anything because it believes it can do anything. There are no hard boundaries on product categories. Convention is the enemy. And there’s certainly no pre-existing trap of the one-dimensional box that is a store.
Apple simplified the branding of its retail locations, editing “store” out completely. Their stores are referred to simply as Apple and the entire brand has evolved into a lifestyle: You can buy helmets that communicate with your iPhone and smart controllers for your lawn sprinklers.
Tesla isn’t trying to sell cars first; instead, their 200 “galleries” are where an entire worldview — a future without combustion engines — is on display. It is promoting Tesla the brand as much, if not more, than merely cars and energy products.
How can brands stuck in the one-dimensional box of single-function stores embrace these changes? Adopt the Tesla/Apple/Amazon attitude of anything goes and rethink principles about what a store is.
Evolve or die.
- No Such Thing as a Store – WayfinD
- The New Apple Stores That Aren’t Stores – Digitalist
- 10 surprising things you can buy at the Apple Store – Business Insider
- We visited a Tesla store and a Mercedes-Benz dealership — these are the most striking differences between them – Business Insider
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should becoming an “anything engine” be a goal of all or a select group of stores? How can retailers largely stuck in the box of single-function stores embrace these changes strategically?