Inside Amazon Books: Mystery Shopping the eTailer’s First Storefront
What do you get when a $100 billion ecommerce giant opens its first brick-and-mortar store?
You get everyone’s attention, of course.
Amazon recently sent tremors through the entire retail world by opening its first full-fledged storefront, a relatively small, 7,500 square foot bookstore in Seattle, eponymously named Amazon Books.
And while the CEO of General Growth Properties retracted his comments last week, suggesting as many as 400 Amazon Books are in the plans, word is Amazon could already be eyeing the San Diego market for its next ribbon-cutting.
Regardless of the company’s ambitions, Amazon has now officially entered the offline space.
And they have our attention.
Inside Amazon Books, Seattle, WA
This weekend Field Agent, the leader in on-location auditing and research, deployed 10 Seattle area agents (5 men; 5 women) to mystery shop Amazon Books. Participants were required to make a book purchase of at least $10, which we verified through photo and video.
Here are just some of the sights, sounds, and insights from the new Amazon Books.
How did shoppers describe the new Amazon Books?
Agents were asked to shop the store for several minutes, at which point we asked them what words they’d use to describe Amazon Books.
The words “modern,” “organized,” “innovative,” and “interactive” were used more than once, while agents also suggested words like “high-tech,” “thoughtful,” and “open.”
What did shoppers see as the standout features of the store?
Agents were also asked to capture photos of the store features they found most appealing. Here are two sample shots, while the full report contains multiple images.
How would shoppers review Amazon Books?
Amazon has, of course, taken the 5-star review to a whole new level. So it seemed very appropriate to have Agents review various dimensions of the new Amazon Books using a 5-star scale. The bookstore performed well:
- Selection/variety of books: 4.25 stars (highest rating: 5; lowest rating: 2.5)
- Prices: 4.3 (high: 5; low: 2.5)
- Ambiance/atmosphere: 4.75 (high: 5; low: 4)
- Overall: 4.5 (high: 5; low: 3)
The full report includes additional 5-star reviews of Amazon Books, specifically "ease of shopping/organization of merchandise" and "shopping experience/enjoyment."
What suggestions did shoppers have for Amazon Books?
Agents were asked to offer criticisms of or suggestions for Amazon Books. There were more than a few recurring mentions:
Congestion/narrow aisles – “Store is too congested. Aisles are very narrow. Hard to walk around people.”
Selection/variety – “Not many reference (exam studying) books, which could be of interest. I feel like young professionals are frequenters of the Amazon brand, so this could be useful.”
Accept cash payment – “Amazon Books does not accept cash as payment. This is horrible.”
Will shoppers return to Amazon Books?
Yes. All 10 Agents said they’re at least moderately likely to return to Amazon Books in the future, broken down as follows:
- Completely likely: 40%
- Very likely: 40%
- Moderately likely: 20%
But WHY Amazon Books?
That is, why would a shopper prefer to purchase books at Amazon Books over, say, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble?
The full report contains quantitative and qualitative insights into this very question. We even asked Agents to identify the areas in which they believe Amazon Books excels Amazon.com and large specialty bookstore chains (e.g., Barnes & Noble).