See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumers_Distributing for an example of the pre-internet version of this exact model.
Read an article on slashdot that Amazon is offering a $20,000 prize to the team that can build a robot picker. (Cheap b**tards, no spending on R&D will design a robot for that price.) Obviously this is another way to avoid having pickers. Customers will pay to choose thier own stuff. Kind of like Sam's Warehouse.
Wonder if the customer will have to go through security?
Those in the UK will, of course, be far more familiar with Argos. Especially as it is still going.
It was what came to my mind first when I saw the article. I fondly remember reading the catalogue and wishing I could afford various toys....
Re: or Argos
I found my five year old looking at the toy section in the argos catalog this weekend when she was supposed to be asleep.
Re: Optimal Thinking.
it happens a lot more than you think. Amazing challenge to solve X, for $1,000,000 (list of conditions before we pay, we own everything).
After the competition, "oh not good enough, but thanks for the ideas!!".
It's easy to look good, if you only pick winners...
see title. ----> delivery drone, not an NSA drone.
It's Argos 2.0!
I've always said Amazon should buy Argos. Its the PERFECT eCommerce Real World Store. Whole business is set up for Click and Collect. Fantastic retail locations in and out of town.
Argos is everything I want in a shop: online catalog, same day collection or delivery, free reservation with minimal signup, self service PoS terminals in every shop, no quibble returns policy and I can usually park right outside for free.
"showcase for Amazon products"
Isn't that Best Buy?
New York City?
Get a rope ...
"Service Merchandise" catalog showrooms
Everything that is old is new again - there were "catalog showrooms" all over the US, where you roamed through displays of goods, wrote down what you wanted, paid for it, and then waited.... while your "salesman" ran into the back to go pull it off a shelf and assemble your order. Never did understand the point of them. The last of them went tits-up about 20 years ago.
I imagine that they were killed by the big-box retailers where you do all the work yourself and save them the money of having to pull your order.
The other thing that is already back on the "reinvented" is the catalog pickup shelves. When I was a kid, a few of the major US department stores had storefronts locally that were nothing more than shelves of deliveries. You'd make a catalog order over the phone, then you could go locally to pick it up, almost like a department-store's own post-office-box solution. Haven't we seen those recently?