In China the online tech giants are busy buying offline retail. It’s the O2O trend: Online-to-Offline. It’s unique to China so far. The logistics of shipping domestically in China is in pretty bad shape. So Alibaba for example may need to partner with local retailers to hit a same day shipping window.
The coverage on O2O is pretty scarce in English media. This is a pretty old article from CNBC:
Even though US has much better shipping infrastructure, I think offline retail can still add value to Amazon. Right now many people go to physical retail to look and feel the product and then comparison shop and buy on Amazon. What if you can save that step and just buy right there because that physical shop is run by Amazon? So you are always guaranteed the online price? Or taking the TV you bought from Amazon online to Amazon offline for repair?
I think Amazon is already experimenting with these formats. I expect to see more Amazon presence in offline retail. Don’t write off physical retail just yet.