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Being Like Amazon Isn’t As Hard As You Think

Amazon is shaking up E-Commerce again by offering delivery to football fans as they tailgate at Levi’s Stadium on San Francisco 49ers game days. The revelers can order any item available on Amazon Prime Now, typically household and food items, so they won’t run out of paper towels, barbecue sauce, or similar tailgating essentials.

While this may be out-of-reach for smaller retailers, deconstructing this phenomenon shows that it’s really not that different from the success stories we know involving mobile POS. A good example is Tennis Plaza, which saw a huge surge in sales by setting up a temporary pop-up shop at the Sony Open.

Serving customers where and when they demand it
Just as Tennis Plaza understood that demand for its products would be high at a tennis competition, Amazon knows that tailgaters often need last-minute supplies and are in situations where it is difficult to obtain them. For example, someone who ran out of hot dog buns won’t think twice about paying the $7.99 delivery fee to get those buns brought to him. At least that’s what Amazon is hoping.

History shows they are probably right. Consumers are continuously willing to pay premiums for items that appeal to them at the exact right moment in time. It’s why musicians can get away with selling $45 t-shirts at their concerts — very few consumers would pay that price at a store. Being in the right place at the right time boosts sales exponentially, and many retailers can tap into this. You don’t have to be Amazon; you just have to set up shop where your target market will be.

Going guerilla to get in
One massive benefit Amazon enjoys is having the clout to ink deals with organizations like the San Francisco 49ers. You definitely need permission to erect a pop-up store at a venue or to send delivery people into a private parking lot, but that doesn’t mean reaching these consumers is impossible without navigating a “sea of red tape”. After all, Uber doesn’t ask for permission before it does pick-ups and drop offs at a location.

The same technology that powers mobile POS and E-Commerce can be used to establish a small, temporary distribution center near any venue — it could even be a van if the offered inventory is small enough. Offer the most relevant merchandise for the event through a microsite and there are many ways fulfillment can be handled. For example, you can make deliveries every 30 minutes to a predetermined location as close as possible to the venue to meet buyers. So long as the area is public, you typically don’t need permission.

It can be easy to think experience and resources are what gives Amazon its fuel to innovate, but the reality is that the largest factor is creative problem solving. By employing the same tactics, you can innovate in ways that make sense for your operations at a scale that can be supported by existing resources, or for a small investment in people, technology and inventory.

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