Nick Powills: Can Amazon Destroy Restaurants?
Nick Powills: Can Amazon Destroy Restaurants?

Amazon shouldn’t scare us – it should motivate us.

Restaurant owners might be in a fight for their lives. Amazon. Is. Coming.

With Amazon Restaurants growing and Whole Foods purchased, along with more than 100,000 matched results for “snack”, Amazon has declared war.

What are you going to do about it? Well, here’s what I would do if I owned a restaurant – especially a QSR concept.

1. Don’t Panic. Amazon doesn’t have kitchens, yet. If they did, they would have to learn how to compete against your product. They would have to engineer the menu, the brand and the experience. With unlimited pockets, they very well could – and could do this tomorrow. But, will they? Not yet. What should you do? Take care of innovation. Don’t stand still on what has been done and will always be the way. Challenge the quality of your product, the cost and the experience. Pretend like you are competing against this internet giant coming to take over your village.

2. Amazon also doesn’t have the employees you do. But they could. And tomorrow, too. If Amazon figures out a way to buck minimum wage and pay people what they deserve in environments that are built around culture and taking care of your people – you are screwed. Unless, of course, you start thinking about the solution now.

3. They don’t have brick and mortar restaurants – technically. They do have Whole Foods and Whole Foods serves some damn good food – but Whole Foods doesn’t satisfy Americans’ appetites for variety (well, they kind of do with a variety of options). Look at your real estate footprint. You already (or at least, should) know that a percentage of your product/experience is outside of your four walls. Truly know this. Downsize the number of seats and square footage your restaurants are occupying. Re-engineer the experience based on data. I once asked a client when the last time every seat at their restaurant was occupied with a wait. They answered never. Don’t let your ego run your design.

4. Get online dummy. Not joking here. If you haven’t embraced a digital footprint, do so. Establish a voice. Not one of those “eat my burger, buy my pizza” bullshit ones, either. Really establish a voice. If you have customers, they want this. Oh, and on that website of yours – create an experience, too. Give your loyal fans MORE. Give them a reason to come back to your site. Don’t be dumb with digital – as you are reading this column DIGITALLY.

Amazon shouldn’t scare us – it should motivate us. It should motivate us to be better restaurant operators, marketers and providers for our customers and employees. Don’t go hide in the damn corner, learn from the king and go execute on excellence. 

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