Amazon is going brick and mortar

By Kimberly Toillion

For years rumors prevailed: U.S. tech giant, Amazon was scouting locations for its first ever brick-and-mortar store. Amazon spokespeople would refute rumors, claiming they would have to find a truly unique idea to do such a thing. While the e-commerce retailer has not made an official announcement it has been confirmed a physical store will open this holiday season. Rather than opening in the company’s hometown of Seattle the Amazon Store will be located at West 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building in New York City. The space is speculated to be more warehouse-like with a showcase featuring Amazon’s key products, such as their smartphones, Kindles and Fire TV media players. The store willin NYC, exchanges and returns.

Amazon made its World Wide Web debut by selling books, but has since expanded to a large assortment of commerce. Some may say the company has been in the business of putting businesses out of business. Since the company’s online opening a staggering number of bookstores across the U.S. have closed. For instance, from 2000 through 2007 more than 1000 bookstores closed up shop. Consequently, there are many who find irony in Amazon’s new physical store knowing so many retail stores closed in the tech giant’s wake. The company is 97,000 employees strong. Its 2013 sales reached 44 billion.

While the news of Amazon going brick-and-mortar may not seem pertinent to anyone outside of the Manhattan area, we are seeing more and more online-only retailers open storefronts. Why are online retailers expanding to brick-and mortar during a time that in-store sales are slipping when compared to e-commerce? According to The National Retail Federation, e-commerce sales were up 9.3 percent in 2013. Yet, most retail purchases are still made in-store. Wouldn’t it make sense then for successful retailers to offer both the option to shop online or in-store?

The dual shopping experience has been developing in reverse for sometime. To be specific, retail stores have been expanding business by also offering online purchases. Why not approach this same premise, only beginning with e-commerce and following with the physical stores? We actually have been seeing more of this the past few years. Just one example of an online seller expanding to brick-and-mortar and having great success is Apple. There are obvious common denominators between Apple and Amazon, primarily they are both U.S. tech giants. It’s difficult not to wonder if Amazon’s storefront success will be anywhere attune to what Apple has been enjoying, Apple products seem to come with a certain mystique, just perhaps Amazon can create their own way of attracting that niche market and making them feel special. If Amazon concludes the storefront is prosperous more stores will open in additional U.S. cities, perhaps a city near you.

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