How do you squeeze the world’s biggest online store into two floors? That’s exactly what Amazon did on the run-up to Black Friday, with their ingenious pop-up store in Soho Square – decked out like a house, and further blurring the lines between the physical and online.
Black Friday has fast become a much-anticipated fixture on the UK retail calendar, and every year more brands are getting involved to drive sales in the build-up to Christmas.
As one of the worlds largest online retailers, Amazon is leading the charge on innovative and competitive online e-tailing – and was one of the very first brands to bring Black Friday to our shores for the first time back in 2010.
Every year they’ve aimed to outdo themselves, and stand head-and-shoulders above the competition. Last year they held a two-week online sales event – but this year they decided to go the full ‘bricks-and-mortar’, with a pop-up in Soho Square.
Called the ‘Home of Black Friday’, it was designed to look and feel like a home. Set within a traditional semi-detached house, the pop-up spanned two floors; downstairs you could wander round the kitchen and creative space, and upstairs a bedroom, lounge, playroom and games room. In each room, you could browse the latest deals across a wide range of products including electronics, beauty products, books, games and toys.
Merging online and off-line shopping
So how did it all work? Well, you could wander round and play with the products, with staff on-hand to help. And using the Amazon app, you could scan the product code – and go straight to Amazon.co.uk to buy it.
Which means it’s not entirely like a regular shop, in that you couldn’t just buy something off the shelf and take it home. But if you were super-keen to get it on the day, the reception area doubled as a dedicated Prime Now delivery area – letting you choose to have your product ordered online delivered to the pop-up within two hours.
The deals promoted in the store were available online for a limited time only – with an online countdown adding a sense of urgency. And every day, the pop-up’s products would change, to match the ‘Deals of the Day’ online. A genius strategy in our opinion, encouraging impulse purchases and driving sales before Black Friday.
An experience you just don’t get online
Where the brand really delivered was the chance to experience the products in ways that online shopping can’t deliver for the consumer – from mini Toni & Guy beauty treatments, a lounge complete with sofa, games console and full selection of games and DVDs… to a playroom filled with toys, books and iPads to browse. There really was something for everyone. And the whole experience was finished off with a touch of Christmas cheer: a tree covered in tinsel, presents on display and of course, plenty of mince pies.
The whole experience was fully staffed (if not a little over-staffed), offering visitors live demonstrations of Amazon-branded products (we now know more than we ever thought possible about the Amazon Show Echo). It also promoted services like Amazon Fresh with a £25 voucher for Whole Foods Market, redeemable on the day (again, to drive that sense of urgency).
There were giveaways too, and chances to win loads of prizes – with a simple ‘spin to win’ iPad game which we won twice (yes, twice!), picking up a free Lego set, a good book, and twin gel nail polish (a good day to have also bought a Lottery ticket, perhaps?!)
A true brand immersion
But the focus wasn’t purely on driving sales; this is also about brand immersion and positioning Amazon as brand leaders in this space. A timeline showing Black Friday Best Sellers since 2010 reminded visitors that Amazon truly own Black Friday in the UK, and are at the forefront of retail firsts and innovation.
Overall, it was an assault on the senses, with quite a lot going on in a relatively small space. But it was also a successful example of how best to extend the reach of the brand beyond the online platform we know and love. Amazon has demonstrated and embraced the need for both a physical retail space and an online platform, showing an insightful understanding that customers can move seamlessly between the two.
So bravo, Amazon – we can’t wait to see what’s in store for Christmas…