Lessons for banking from Amazon Fresh’s retail rollout during COVID

In late August, as the country tentatively moved toward a new normal and a cautious resumption of public life, Amazon made a bold, and to many, surprising move. As Business Insider reports, the online retailer opened a 35,000-square-foot standalone grocery store called Fresh in Woodland Hills, California.

Fresh looks like a typical grocery and competes on a wide selection and low prices. It’s designed to create a best-in class shopping experience, with store associates trained to deliver high touch, personalized service and a seamlessly integrated and ‘digitally perfected’ infrastructure that gives shoppers lots of options, from its smart “Dash” carts to Alexa-enabled wayfinding. Shoppers can also choose traditional or touchless checkout and online ordering for pickup or delivery.

As Jeff Helbling, VP of Amazon Fresh stores, explains, the strategy is borne out of a key insight: customers have an ongoing desire for in-person retail experiences – during COVID and always. “Online shopping is up during the pandemic,” he says, “but a lot of customers still prefer to shop either all the time or most of the time in a physical grocery store. So we’re investing in online, and we’re investing in stores. We want to give customers choices.”

Amazon plans to rapidly expand its Fresh footprint, with additional stores planned for Los Angeles and Chicago later this year, and nationwide openings in 2021.

While the pandemic has accelerated consumer adoption – and demand for – digital transactions, brick-and-mortar retail remains vital. As we emerge from the pandemic to once again go to shared spaces as part of daily life, these physical environments will be perhaps more vital than ever, fulfilling our inherent need to connect, not just to click. Banks and credit unions will successfully emerge from this crisis by taking a customer-centric view, investing not in one channel or the other, but in both together to create a seamless digital/physical experience built around how customers want to connect.

To learn how your banking brand can optimize its retail experience during reopening and beyond email info@adrenalinex.com.

Image credit: Amazon