National newspapers are reporting today that Amazon may be moving to open up a number of “bricks and mortar” high-street shops across the country.

It’s an interesting development from a company that we’ve always believed has blazed the trail for online business. We often look to Amazon for best practice in e-marketing, website structure and internet retailing, but we didn’t foresee that they would be taking this seemingly retrograde step.

Still, if Amazon sees the value of ‘real-life’ premises, then no doubt we soon all will. So far, the only reason given seems to be that people are fed up of waiting at home for deliveries and prefer the convenience of ordering online before going to physical premises to pick their purchases up. It seems more likely to me that Amazon has seen a chance to reach that small sector of the population who do not, for whatever reason, purchase online.

Amazon has already been accused of driving small bookshops out of business. Now it is just possible that, with their enormous inventory, they will also be competing with every kind of shop, large and small, mainstream or niche.

Whether it is a successful project remains to be seen, but it is interesting to see the reversal of the usual situation whereby a brand that is well-known on the high street goes on to establish its online presence. Can it work the other way round? Let’s wait and see, and in the meantime, hope that Amazon won’t prove too much of a threat to the independent retailers that give character to any town.