June 22, 2017 1:16 pm | Thought provoking blogs |

From Apple watches to Zippo lighters and every letter of the alphabet in between, you can buy pretty much everything you want on Amazon.

The company is the archetypal game changer, the epitome of the 21st century subversive business that keeps reinventing its business model and creating a successful formula from which others have learned, evolved and contributed to the online retail landscape.

And yet, the latest headline grabbing move from this behemoth of the online retail revolution is potentially the most surprising yet. While it continues to add functionality to its website, map customer behaviours with its data and extend its product range with technically advanced gadgets like the Echo smart speaker, Amazon has surprised everyone by branching out into bricks and mortar stores.

But should we be surprised?

Amazon’s original core range was books, an inherently physical product. While many have switched to Kindle as a compact electronic alternative, paper books remain more popular (and many Kindle owners have largely switched back).

But it’s not just the physical look and feel of a book that we’ve missed.  It’s sharing books, browsing in store, being part of a community. Amazon has realised that people are inherently social and, while sharing recommendations online is great, it’s not the same as shared experience.

That human desire to interact is why we will always need to build shops, and offices, and bars and cinemas, despite our ability to buy, work, drink and view at home. It’s great news for the construction sector, and even better news for us as a species!

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