Nike in Mumbai.

Upon our return from a few weeks in Mumbai, my family and I embarked on a quest that perfectly encapsulates the interests of my two boys, aged 13 and 10. Their fascination with all things typical of their age—video games, popular YouTubers, and the allure of Nike—led us to a mission: hunting for Nike stores and also intriguing knockoffs in places like Fashion Street, nestled within the bustling cityscape.

Meanwhile, my personal quest was more straightforward: I sought a Nike Mumbai shirt. Having collected Nike shirts from various cities worldwide—Shanghai, London—finding a Mumbai edition was a priority. However, our initial store visit turned up empty-handed. It was a helpful store associate who steered us toward the Nike outlet at Palladium Mall, sensing both my desire and the boys’ potential delight in the search.

The Palladium store proved to be an unexpected treasure trove. While the customary Nike station for personalized tees and hats was there, what truly astonished us was the collaboration with local artists. These creative minds ingeniously wove iconic city landmarks and cultural motifs into Nike designs, paying homage to the essence of Mumbai and India. Adding another layer of magic, the fusion of artists and Nike extended to an Instagram AR filter, animating these unique designs on our phones.

In my globetrotting adventures, I’ve encountered an array of anticipated designs. Even within high-end retailers, the beauty of unexpected designs has become somewhat predictable. Yet, what Nike accomplished in partnership with local designers left a lasting impression on me.

As a family, adorned in our newfound Nike shirts, we’re not just wearing fabric—we’re sporting cherished memories. This experience has deepened our appreciation for Nike, intertwining our passion for the brand with the rich tapestry of Mumbai’s culture.

During a visit to Minneapolis a few weeks ago I got the chance to experience the Good Housekeeping Lab store at Mall of America. It’s a showroom for Good Housekeeping tested products. The magazine has come a long way — I remember the magazines sitting around my house as a kid. I love their ambition and creativity in creating this experience with Amazon.

The store is an Amazon-powered showroom of GH tested products, set up as vignettes around a 2800 sq. ft. space.

Each item is identified by a printed tag. The tag includes the item name, price and an Amazon “SmileCode”.

Using the Amazon app, you can scan the “SmileCode” and you are immediately taken to the product page.

The products in the image below are part of the kitchen vignette (good to see an old client made the cut).

Kitchen Vignette at the back of the store

After seeing new concepts I like to try to guess the why behind their creation.

At first blush, while this is a newsworthy and interesting retail execution, 
I don’t think this concept solves any consumer friction. Shoppers can walk into most stores and look at products. Shoppers can find reviews online. Shoppers can purchase products on Amazon. Shoppers can even buy products on Amazon while staring at the product in a non-Amazon store. 
So it’s not friction-solving.

How about it being an Alibaba-like move. Amazon acts as your physical retail storefront, offering your brand exposure and enabling you to sell without having to create your own infrastructure. Amazon started by enabling online storefronts. Maybe their plan is to dole out brick and mortar store fronts.

Or could it be Good Housekeeping striving to make their seal of approval mean something. But who would you trust, 1200 people who gave something a 4 ½ star rating on Amazon or a Good Housekeeping Lab seal? My mom might say Good Housekeeping. My sister might say, Good who? (which might be the point, GH using Amazon to make them relevant again).

Whatever their reasons, the uphill battle this and other similar concepts will face is that we are still in the nascent stage of physical-digital retail and, except for payments, it’s not being used to solve any consumer frictions.

Behaviors are shifting but the shift accelerates when and where there is friction. I don’t think American consumers face, or will face, enough friction for these concepts to work at scale in the next three to five years. They have to deliver value aligned with a need.

If this was plopped down into a Tier One Chinese city, shoppers would be ordering left and right at this store. It works there due to timing, systems and their place on the trajectory of digital evolution. The giants built their systems the only way the know how.

Here in the US, while I applaud this effort because there is little downside for either party, this lab store is still more of a novelty. Time will tell what Amazon & Good Housekeeping do with the learnings, and whether the seal
of approval will ever mean anything to future generations.

Thanks for reading.

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