The architecture of information:
Back in the 1990s when the web revolution was starting, there was much discussion about e-commerce taking over from “brick-and-mortar” stores. Of course, we’ve seen that story play out; the “Great Retail Apocalypse” of 2017 is attributed at least in part to the rise of online shopping, particularly on Amazon.com.
While many of us have moved our shopping from physical to information environments, Amazon itself has been making incursions in the opposite direction. They’ve established popup Kindle stores in shopping malls, established physical bookstores, opened the forward-looking Amazon Go stores, and bought the Whole Foods supermarket chain.
And now, Amazon has opened a new physical retail store in New York dedicated to selling products rated four stars or more by its online customers. Beyond the fact that the real-world store’s product selection is influenced by the online store’s feedback mechanisms, the way these products are organized in the physical space also mirrors categories in Amazon’s information environment. Groupings include most-wished-for products, those trending locally, and Amazon Exclusives, all categories we’re used to seeing in Amazon.com.
At this point, many brick-and-mortar retailers have established information environments with online organization schemes that take cues from their physical retail outlets. It’s fascinating to see the process happening in the opposite direction.