click+brick+kiosk = amazon locker = can’t delay gratification

Somebody should give me an award or something…you know…what if I told you that I predicted the arrival of Amazon Locker a solid 2 years and 2 months before it was actually launched (last month). Huh!

May 20th 2010: Real-time Market Hypothesis by Yours Truly:
...When this real-time need becomes dominant...and trust me we are not too far from retailing as we know it...will slowly give way to a new business model...I don't know what'd that be but I believe brick and click retailers might be able to adapt themselves with much more ease than the pure plays. Perhaps a new business model "click+brick+kiosk" will become popular... (Read all of it here)

And here’s the interesting part. Almost everyone who has covered this story (SlateWiredWSJ, whoever) has missed the underlying theme. Guys – it goes deeper, it’s not about an over-ambitious Amazon trying to take over offline retail world or trying to save on shipping charges / taxes; Locker thing is going to help them cut down on shipping time drastically - of course the money they'd save by avoiding to run to people's houses will be there but that's not the reason why they are doing it - they don't have a choice; it’s about what digital technology has done to human beings – people with mobile phones and 24X7 internet connections can’t “delay gratification” anymore. The opportunity cost of waiting for anything is just too high in an always-on interactive environment. I bet, in near future, when you place an order to Locker, Amazon will do some magic and deliver your stuff in hours to your locker; if they can do same-day delivery to your door, delivering to a locker in 6 hours shouldn't be that difficult. Additionally, the fact that you can collect your merchandise any time you want (2 am in the night) gives you exactly the kind of freedom that digital generation seeks.

Our decreasing ability to "delay gratification" is the key here. Somebody, please ask that Marshmallow Experiment guy from Stanford to do a brand new research on the impact of digital tech on “deferred gratification”.

If you are an online retail shop and can’t do kiosk, here’s a suggestion – Gamify and/or Socialize the waiting time. According to this research, it seems “solo waits feel longer than group waits” and since forming groups is the easiest thing anybody can do these days, you can’t really go wrong with this – send a message to your customer that says – You, 25 of your FB friends and 1500 other people from your city have the same delivery date for the orders placed with us today; here’s a game you can play to locate one another’s orders. Lucky guy gets a jackpot…blah blah know the drill…just kiddin!!

What else. You want to know how Amazon, Apple, Google & Facebook can compete peacefully without stepping into one another’s shoes? You can find a truly creative answer in a not-so-well-known book called - Right Side Up - by Alan Mitchell. Read my hypothesis about it here and here.


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