What Small Business Retail Can Learn From Amazon Bookstores

You’re not selling products, you’re selling to a lifestyle

Photo by natasha ong on Unsplash

Deep Niche, Long Tail

The bookstores that survived and even thrived in the initial onslaught of Amazon and other online retailers were frequently those that served a niche market — mystery bookstores, spiritual stores, children’s bookstores, music bookstores. Many of these stores were focal points of their communities and they likely had community space and some comfortable spots for sitting and reading. They maintained mailing lists and sent out frequent information, printed and digital about new titles, author appearances, sales, and community events.

It’s all about serving a niche in such a way that you own the niche rather than the product.

You don’t have a bookstore at all. Instead, you curate a book selection that changes and evolves over time. The same with music. You sell a curated selection of vinyl, CD, digital, whatever format works for your audience and your environment. You find artists in the community and you display and sell a curated selection of their work. Your customer loves music, but they also value convenience and use technology to enhance their enjoyment of music. So you sell a small selection of music tech: a specific set of headphones. Maybe two. Some speakers, USB turntables, little electronic gizmos that create music or help record or manipulate recorded sounds. Throw in some live performances or a DJ Night.

Transistor in Chicago (photo attributed to transistor)

Pop Up To Find Your Tribe

Another way to approach the retail angle is through pop up stores or events. A well-planned pop up store can accomplish two things. First, it gives you a chance to test market to your niche. Second, it alerts your niche that you exist and it creates face-to-face contact with people who could well be not only your initial customers, but proselytizers as well.

Author of Quotable Jazz, Publisher of https://www.newdirectionsinmusic and http://www.eatatangerine. Writes at Medium about writing, marketing, and culture.

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