Amazon reinvented shopping with its online store. Why not do the same offline? Perhaps the humble vending machine is where that starts.
Instead of running a big booth on the show floor or unloading a bombastic keynote speech, Amazon made its presence known at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with decidedly more subtlety. It wedged a vending machine in between a Wells Fargo ATM and a scuffed-up door at the Las Vegas airport.
The vending machine, you see, spits out the company’s Kindle e-reader tablet PCs, which is all it took to catch the attention of showgoers flying in and out of Vegas. It was Amazon’s way of taunting eager-beaver competitors who spent heavily to flog their devices to the CES masses. Like Apple, Amazon knows it will get attention for the smallest of moves. It didn’t even have to show up at CES.
But this isn’t just a nice piece of marketing. Those attendees were right to turn their heads. Though there’s nothing new about electronics vending machines, any foray by Amazon into the world of offline retail is a big deal. When Amazon ventures into the physical world — whether with in-store delivery lockers or grocery trucks or vending machines — the company’s sheer scale and ambition demand that you think in terms of world domination.