Amazon Is Moving From Online Shopping to Opening Retail Stores

From a Wall Street Journal story by Sebastian Herrera, Esther Fung, and Suzanna Kapner headlined “Amazon Plans to Open Large Retail Locations Akin to Department Stores”: Inc. plans to open several large physical retail locations in the U.S. that will operate akin to department stores, a step to help the tech company extend its reach in sales of clothing, household items, electronics and other areas….

The plan to launch large stores will mark a new expansion for the online-shopping pioneer into bricks-and-mortar retail, an area Amazon has long disrupted.

Some of the first Amazon department stores are expected to be located in Ohio and California. The new retail spaces will be around 30,000 square feet, smaller than most department stores, which typically occupy about 100,000 square feet, and will offer items from top consumer brands. The Amazon stores will dwarf many of the company’s other physical retail spaces and will have a footprint similar to scaled-down formats that Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom and other department-store chains have begun opening.

It is unclear what brands Amazon will offer in the stores, although the company’s private-label goods are expected to feature prominently, the people said. Amazon sells scores of products including clothes, furniture, batteries and electronic devices through many of its own labels….

Amazon’s plans represent an evolution in the company’s efforts to move into bricks-and-mortar retail after years of taking market share from big-box operators—moves that helped to push many into bankruptcy. The company’s growth in online shopping helped accelerate the fall of mall operators and other once-potent physical-store empires. Amazon is now the largest seller of clothing in the U.S….

Founded in 1994 as an online bookseller, Amazon has gradually gained a foothold in physical retail through the opening of book stores, grocery outlets and other physical spaces. The company bought the grocer Whole Foods Market in 2017….

An expanded store footprint would enable Amazon to offer consumers a bevy of items they could try out in person before deciding to buy. That would be particularly beneficial in apparel, which can often be a guessing game for customers shopping online because of size and fit concerns. It would also give customers even more instant gratification than the quick shipping offered by Amazon for online purchases.

Amazon executives have felt that bricks-and-mortar stores would enable better engagement with customers and provide a showcase for its devices and other products to shoppers who otherwise might not have tried them….The company has sought to innovate in bricks and mortar while building a network of stores that could glean insightful customer data and provide new shopping experiences….

Over the years, Amazon has used its clout to expand into new markets, disrupting some industries and gaining strength in many others, including entertainment, groceries, healthcare and more. While the extent to which its physical-retail ambitions will grow isn’t clear, the company has been steadily adding stores for years….

The company’s technological innovations have been particularly present in its line of grocery stores, which began with its purchase of Whole Foods. Those now include its cashierless Amazon Go convenience stores in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle and its more conventional Amazon Fresh stores across several states….


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