Generic shopfront with Amazon Christmas livery, with a Christmas Tree in the window and with the Redbox logo overlaid

To most of us, Amazon is a company that lives on the internet.

It knows what we want and can often anticipate what we will like before we’ve even thought of it. Its product range is huge, it can supply almost anything, anywhere, at any time. We view it on multiple devices: PCs, tablets, mobiles and smart TV’s. We feel it through its branded packaging and return notes. We talk to it via Alexa.

Yet it is still somewhat disembodied – a supra-national retail organisation with no tangible physical presence. However, for a few short days over the Black Friday weekend and Christmas trading build-up, Amazon inhabited a retail pop-up store in Shoreditch to show its best-selling products. The internet retailing giant came to Earth as “flesh and blood”, touting its wares for the curious to pick up, feel and try.

Classic pop-up store experience

The store was laid out in classic “pop-up” style – a purposeful, temporary shop-fit. Tablet devices were available to encourage browsing and shopping from the entire Prime product range. There was advanced “view-in-a-room” functionality to show how certain products would actually look.

Various brands like Le Creuset and Play Station took dedicated retail space to show off their best-selling products. Other areas were arranged to mimic the home so products could be seen in situ rather than through presentation panels of websites images.

There was a pop-up barbershop using products sold on Amazon.co.uk, a bar area serving spirits sold on Amazon, a living room zone, a Prime cinema area and even a Christmas tree room!

A sign of things to come?

The pop-up store was a bit like a wild retail love child born from a coupling of Ikea and Argos. It was clearly a marketing and publicity ploy designed to remind consumers that Amazon is a real company. But could it also signal a test run by the tech giant into the bonafide retail bricks and mortar space? Time will tell, but as a retail concept and stunt, it was a fascinating project.