Yet another intrusion into the physical world for Amazon. This time the e-commerce giant has just launched an atypical pop-up store programme, “Clicks and Mortar”, aimed at promoting UK SMEs and DNVBs*. A test that will last one year, developed in partnership with local institutions. A successful recipe? Check back in a few months to find out.
The first “Clicks and Mortar” pop-up store has just opened at St Mary’s Gate, in the heart of Manchester. And soon Wales, Scotland, the Midlands, Yorkshire and South East England will follow. A total of 10 “physical” modules will be tested for one year in cities in the UK.
A version of Amazon Four Star?
Will the Clicks and Mortar just be a version of the Amazon Four Star, those shops where only products rated 4 stars and up in online comments are displayed? One might think so. The Clicks and Mortars basically offer products that don’t match any assortment logic, so in them you’re just as likely to find scooters as to find food, leather goods or healthcare products . They have just one thing in common: production is carried out by English Small Businesses, and the sale is only made online (and probably on Amazon – we rest our case).
A great opportunity for these VSEs, who can test the sale of their flagship products “in real life”, and what’s more, on main arteries in the city centre. The connection between on and off? History hasn’t spoken yet – but it is clearly another proof that DNVBs, even small ones, will not remain 100% digital.
Amazon, partner to local entrepreneurship
In this project, Amazon is not alone. Three partners strongly involved in local entrepreneurship are supporting this project: Enterprise Nation, a community that helps entrepreneurs create and grow their business, Direct Line for Business, an insurance company specialised in small businesses and Square, a legendary pioneering company specialising in electronic payments. These are some big names to support the exploration of a new model to help emerging brands develop their presence on the streets. A commendable initiative – even if, as we know, Amazon never does anything by chance.
After the test year, independent research on the success of the pilot project will be submitted to the government, following the call for new ideas to develop the Future High Streets strategy.
“Small businesses are one of our largest client groups and we are delighted to work with Enterprise Nation to develop a comprehensive package to help UK entrepreneurs grow their businesses, both in-store and online.” Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon.
Amazon: fundraiser and apprentice trainer for SMEs
In parallel with this new programme, Amazon UK has set up a new £1,000,000 fund to train more than 150 full-time apprentices. This is a valuable boost for English small businesses, which are thereby giving themselves the means to increase their productivity and online sales. One free digital training at the Amazon Academy events will also be offered across the United Kingdom. This approach is very similar to Alibaba’s.
A successful recipe?
In view of the very local partners and the involvement of Amazon’s UK Manager, the Clicks and Mortar initiative seems, for the time being, specifically reserved for the United Kingdom. The country is indeed considered as a solid platform on our continent, so might this be an opportunity for a post-Brexit export?
Amazon, as we know, never moves forward without an ulterior motive and if successful, this model would be duplicated on a country-by-country basis in partnership with local entrepreneurship. An all in all good idea.
Can we talk about a successful recipe? It’s hard to say. One thing is certain: Amazon is doing everything possible to reinvent the types of businesses that are adapted, going beyond the traditional schemes. And its unique initiatives are inspiring a lot of people.
See you in a year’s time for the results of independent research on the success of the pilot project. Could this be a way of appeasing English anti-GAFA MPs?
*Small and Medium-sized Enterprises – Digital Native Vertical Brand
By Jean-Marc Mégnin, CEO of Altavia Shoppermind