business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

USA Today has a piece about the Amazon Treasure Truck, which the story describes as “a quirky way for the online retailer to connect with shoppers in person,” and which now operates in some 40 US and UK markets.

The story describes the truck format this way:

“What's sold on the trucks? The item is a secret until the day the trucks roll out. People who sign up get a morning text announcing the deal of the day. At the circus-like trucks, which light up and blast music, Amazon workers play games with shoppers and help them take selfies. They have custom designs, like a lobster and lighthouse on the Boston truck; cowboy boots in Dallas; and a race car in Indianapolis. A bubble-blowing machine is usually going … Amazon picks what's sold on the trucks … There are holiday-related goods, such as the Godiva chocolates and dozen red roses it sold before Valentine's Day; trendy items, like the Instant Pot pressure cooker; or food, such as uncooked shrimp or raw chicken wings.”

The story notes that “the trucks go out a couple times a week and spend a few hours roving between the parking lots of malls, office complexes or banks. Amazon rents those spaces, but it can also park in front of its own Whole Foods stores.”

I like this idea a lot, and it ought to serve as a lesson to traditional retailers about the importance of breaking the mold and trying unconventional means to connect with shoppers. Don’t just wait for folks to come to you … find ways to go to them, to challenge and entertain them, to extend your brand in innovative and compelling ways.

There is one Eye-Opening thing, though, that I do not understand.

The USA Today story starts with an anecdote about a shopper buying two pounds of flank steak from an Amazon Treasure Truck parked in a Costco parking lot.

A Costco parking lot? What the hell is Costco - which, last time IO checked, sells steaks and compete with Amazon in a plethora of categories - doing in letting Amazon sell stuff from its property?

I don’t care if the argument is that Amazon will bring in customers. Allowing an Amazon truck that kind of visibility is akin to retail malpractice.
KC's View: