Jeff Bezos was quoted at an Aspen Institute awards dinner, “Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood.”
Okay Mr. Bezos. However, I must say that my friend and columnist for this publication, Warren Shoulberg, didn’t misunderstand your “invention.” In fact, he nailed it in this issue, at least for now. His article, “Down by The River,” provides a clear and brilliant insight into the breadth and depth of that omnipotent “river,” indeed, sparking the “fourth distribution revolution.” It also sends a strong and provocative message to all retailers, large and small, both online and off: you are getting your “e-butts” kicked, and you might as well concede “game over.”
He suggests that even if you catch up, it will be too late.
Yes!! … But for the 70% on the Ground
I totally agree with Warren about kicking “e-butts,” but what about the share of total retail sales owned by the real butts on the ground? Currently, varying between 70 to 95 percent, depending on the category. That’s a whopping big share flowing through the various physical distribution platforms in this omnichannel new world. So, even if, as Forrester Research predicts, that someday e-commerce may account for 30 to 40 percent of total retail sales, the omnipotent Amazon will not even be a player on the biggest “real butts” playing field, unless …
They Hit the Ground
And if Amazon does go physical, as predicted in my co-authored book, and in many articles in this publication, they will hit the ground running, no — sprinting. I say sprinting because, they will not only be adding a sixth distribution point to Warren’s “fourth revolution,” Bezos will be launching a new “real butt” model that will — well, kick “real butts.”
Using their Pentagon-sized database and the hundreds of huge distribution centers they are now building across the country, I envision small, experiential showroom-like offshoots of those centers, spreading into neighborhoods, and physically and digitally connecting/engaging with each local consumer. Their ‘big data’ already tells them what each of those people desires. And all of the technological gizmos and gadgets currently being tested and tried by the “real butts” will likely be improved and added to by Amazon when they hit the ground.
And They Will
If Bezos is as brilliant as reported, he ‘gets it,’ and knows this is a next phase. The omnichannel concept is not just for brick-and-mortar retailing. And the three-to-four-times more revenue producing synergy created by both online and offline shopping options, is a metric Bezos can’t ignore, to say nothing of the absolute dollars he will be leaving on the real butt playing field if he chooses not to play.
Oh yes, understand one other thing about his “invention:” you may have to wait (not long), but he will play.