As the Wall Street Journal points out, the move makes a lot of sense for both the customers as well as the online giant. Currently the lockers are only present in locations that already charge Amazon customers sales tax. As efforts are mounting to get legislation in place that would require all online retailers to collect sales tax on every transaction in the US, it is a possibility that Amazon could expand this strategy nationwide and that other online retailers could follow suit.
What is certain is the acknowledgement by Amazon, the biggest and most customer-centric online retailer, that a physical location has some value and can increase convenience and enhance the customer experience. I am certainly not expecting or advocating that online retailers should open traditional retail stores. However, Amazon move might be yet another sign of the convergence of traditional retailing and online retailing towards an ideal multi-channel strategy.
In my post Tourneau Delivers Luxurious Experience with Multi-Channel Strategy, I have written about the importance of developing a multi-channel strategy for traditional retailers. As consumers become increasingly discerning, the same will hold true for online retailers. Consumers are already getting used to shopping on their terms, being online or offline. In the coming years, most customers will be equally comfortable in shopping across all channels and will use any one channel regularly and indifferently.
The retailers that will be successful in the long term will be those that are able to provide a remarkable and convenient customer experience across all channels. I am confident that, eventually, the differences between online and offline retailers are bound to get smaller. In this scenario, Amazon might even expand further their physical presence, developing other retail formats apart from the current delivery lockers. Certainly, the online retailers and only a few other companies already appear to have a leg up.