Amazon.com says it plans to open its first physical shop. The bricks and mortar store will be located in New York across from the Empire State Building, just ahead of the holiday shopping season.
The new premises will be a physical shop as well as a warehouse. According to the Wall Street Journal, unnamed people familiar with the matter say the new store is an “experiment”.
Customers will be able to order products online in the morning and then come and pick them up at the store later on in the day. The shop will also process returns and exchanges.
According to CNET, Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said the company has made no official announcement regarding a location in Manhattan. But the retailer did not deny the plan.
While most of the world has been talking about the demise of physical shops as consumers rapidly shift towards the Internet, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and founder has mentioned the idea of physical storefronts before.
In 2012, in an interview with Charlie Rose at CNET, Mr. Bezos said he loved the idea of a physical store and would consider the possibility if it could be done in a way that gave the shopper a unique experience.
Mr. Bezos said:
“The people who operate physical retail stores are very good at it. The question we would always have before we would embark on such a thing is what’s the idea, what would we do that would be different?”
Retail experts are scratching their heads at Amazon’s plan, wondering what its exact purpose is. Setting up a physical shop in the most expensive part of New York city to operate as a sort of distribution center does not make business sense, and does not appear to offer any benefits over its existing online retail offerings.
People like Amazon because it sells so many different things at great prices and delivers promptly. What else could a store in Manhattan offer?
Perhaps it would be somewhere people could come and physically touch its Fire Phone, Kindles and other devices.
Amazon won’t be the first retailer that started off purely online and then moved to physical shops. Californian retailers SwimSpot and JustFab Inc were once digital only and have opened bricks and mortar locations.
Last summer Bonobos, the men’s fashion label, opened a store in Los Angeles. Sophia Amoruso, who founded Nasty Gal, says she is planning to open a shop.