The Whole Foods-Amazon deal made the headline last month in the tech industry. Besides using the acquisition as the basis to expand its grocery delivery business, Amazon may also use the brick-and-mortar stores to expand its latest gadgets, such as Kindle or the Echo.
In the company’s recent earnings call, CFO Brian Olsavsky said that the stores present a great opportunity for consumers to feel and touch devices, especially the new Echo devices, rather than browsing tech specs online. The company will experiment with different ways to utilize the newly acquired Whole Foods physical stores.
The grocery chain has established more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. When consumers enter the stores to purchase goods, they may also want to check out smart speakers for their homes.
Amazon released the first Echo back in November 2014. Although no advanced models were introduced, it has revealed a series of twists this year – including fashion advice provider the Echo Look, grocery shopping helper the Echo Wand, and the Echo Show that is equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen.
While videos on YouTube may showcase the power of the smart speaker, trying the device in-person and seeing how it connects and works with other smart home gadgets are more likely to motivate consumers to actually make the purchase.
A case in point is Apple, which recently began to set up smart home sections in 46 of its physical retail stores worldwide. Consumers can now go to the Apple Stores to try out how to control smart home gadgets via HomeKit with iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. The smart speaker HomePod will certainly be showcased in the section after it is officially launched at the end of the year.
In 2015, Amazon unveiled its brick-and-mortar stores in Seattle, selling books and showcasing its Kindle devices. Today, there are eight Amazon bookstores in major cities of the United States, where consumers can purchase books and try out the company’s latest gadgets as well, including Kindle and the Echo.
On the software side, there are currently about 13,000 Alexa skills available on the smart home platform. The company continues to promote Alexa and offer benefits to developers. For example, Amazon has reached out to developer boot camp Coding Dojo and made the commitment to teach 1,500 developers how to code Alexa skills by the end of the year. The coding school has campus in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.