Don’t Be Amazon, Be The Best You

500 Innovation and Partnerships

January 09, 2019

Right now, Amazon owns half an eCommerce market, which accounts for 11.9% of total retail sales. This means there is still–for now–far more opportunity for others. This begs the question; Why be an Amazon when you can be the best you?

In the wake of so many iconic retail bankruptcies, we might start to believe in an inevitable demise for all retailers. But what can we really expect? How can retailers rethink their innovation strategy?

These recent trends offer insight into some ways your organization can craft its own vision for innovative success.  Let’s review how some startups are making physical stores relevant again. Looking for a deep dive? Sign up below to immediately receive an extended white paper on this subject!

Stores without Products

Will “the showroom” be retail’s final iteration?

Most successful modern brands have hyper-social personas—they rely on new media channels to promote a close customer-to-brand relationship. However, can stores be more than a marketing tool?

*cough* data-gathering *cough*

A Shift Toward Pop-ups

Suddenly, stores are becoming more asset-light and localized. Given that retailers struggle with freight and inventory costs, we need to imagine leaner stores. The recent holiday season spotlights a perennial concept: The Pop-up Store. Remember FAO Schwarz? They’re just one brand that’s making a reemergence thanks to the pop-up concept. 

Let’s take a second to ask ourselves: How much more lean can the retail concept reasonably get? What startups are driving these changes?


Here’s a growing trend that’s lowering costs in retail and helping brands explore just how inexpensive it can be to operate a storefront. The growing use of automation is quickly changing how many storefronts a brand can afford to open.

Startups everywhere are making stores more and more autonomous. Who are these startups and where can they be found? We’ll take a quick look at some of these emerging companies in our full white paper on the retail revolution.

Digital Goes To Brick and Mortar

There are many advantages to storefronts that online retailers actually miss out on, so it should be no surprise that eCommerce startups are now opening actual storefronts. Want to explore some of the first to make this move and see how they’ve fared since? This trend will be important to understand as we explore the success of the online-to-offline model.

Streamable Products are the New On-Demand

Things are moving fast. Not only are eCommerce retailers racing to create storefronts, but physical retailers are rushing to expand online. At 500, we see innovation strategy shifting to a product-by-product basis.

By leveraging their data, retailers will sell individual products in their most streamable channels. For example: one retailer might choose to offer specific products either online or offline depending on their customer’s purchasing patterns. We see the best companies leveraging their data to open other new markets for their products.

Retailers Lose the Customer Journey

The tale of an elusive customer: A customer falls in love with a product in-store, but goes online to make their purchase. Can we accurately track this journey?

For firms to optimize across channels and open new markets, they must capitalize on sales metrics and track the customer journey across platforms. Which companies are solving this problem?

Innovating Beyond The Walls of a Retail Outlet

Your innovation strategy must be yours (not Amazon’s). In the retail space, this depends on many factors ranging from your product, brand, and innovation history.

At 500, we help startups grow. One way to do that is to help them fit into the innovation journeys of our corporate partners. In doing this we’ve found that the retailers who are ready for the future are already looking at these opportunities.

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