Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 7, 2012 03:51 PM
Most retailers are trying to find a way to get more consumers to go online. The reasons are simple: less overhead, fewer employees with health insurance, and a much higher profit margin.
But Amazon isn’t like other retailers. The word on the street in its home base of Seattle is that Amazon is thinking about opening its first-ever brick-and-mortar location, according to the Good E-Reader blog. “Amazon sources close to the situation” tell the site that the company is aiming to open the store in the next few months.
“This project is a test to gauge the market and see if a chain of stores would be profitable,” Good E-Reader reports. “They intend on going with the small boutique route with the main emphasis on books from their growing line of Amazon Exclusives and selling their e-readers and tablets.” At least they'll have a well-honed delivery system.
The Seattle Times points out that the company has used its corporate hometown to pilot other local ideas, such as Amazon Fresh, its “food delivery service and lockers at which customers can have packages delivered.” (Another Seattle-headquartered brand, Starbucks, is using the city to test alcohol sales and recycled containers for store construction.)
Amazon would not comment on the rumor, but one bets that other retailers would love to come up with an app that allows consumers to scan a product at the Amazon store and get it cheaper from somewhere else. After all, this is exactly what Amazon did with its PriceCheck app in early December as the holiday shopping heated up.
Amazon's move into physical bookselling follows the expansion of its Amazon Publishing arm, headed by book publishing veteran Larry Kirshbaum (called "Amazon's Hit Man" by Bloomberg Businessweek), and comes as the company is finding its print titles barred from sale at bricks-and-mortar rivals including Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and Canada's Indigo books chain.