Amazon goes to school with first brick-and-mortar store

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has opened its first brick-and-mortar location on the campus of Purdue University, dubbed [email protected]

The long-rumored move is expected to be the first of many physical locations in the future. Amazon is said to be in talks to acquire stores from RadioShack, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sprint also has agreed to buy RadioShack locations.

While Amazon is reportedly considering using those stores to primarily showcase its hardware offerings, such as e-readers, TV streaming devices and smartphones, the Purdue location is focused on textbooks and school-related products, according to Bloomberg. Any future Amazon store is expected to offer pickup and drop-off services, as the Purdue location does.

"Purdue is a tech school that has a large student body all on one campus, so that plays well for a location like this where students can pick up their packages," Ripley MacDonald, Amazon's director of student programs, told the Indianapolis Star. "So it was a combination of those factors that brought us together."

In the early days of the opening, popular items are textbooks, school supplies, video games, consumer electronics and electronic accessories, according to Paul Ryder, Amazon's VP of media and student programs. "Whether students are ordering textbooks, laptops, or mac and cheese, Amazon and Purdue are now providing a convenient and secure spot for them to pick up their stuff at hours that work with their schedules. We look forward to bringing this experience to more universities soon," he said in a statement.

The first store is at the Krach Leadership Center on campus. Amazon plans to open a second location in the Purdue Memorial Union building. Amazon has similar arrangements with the University of California, Davis, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Besides textbooks and college essentials offered at Amazon's prices, students will be able to return textbook rentals and other orders there. With Amazon Prime or Amazon Student, which provides Prime benefits at half of the $98 per year price, members get free one-day shipping on textbooks to the West Lafayette (Ind.) area and are eligible for free one-day pickup on over one million Amazon items shipped to the new [email protected] store.

"We're excited to open our first-ever staffed pickup location at Purdue, making it more convenient and affordable for students to get everything they need for life on campus," said Ryder.

If Amazon acquires the RadioShack locations, analyst Scott Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., told Internet Retailer that the primary uses would be to showroom brands like the Kindle and Fire, while providing pickup and return services. This would help the online retailer compete with Apple stores. "Imagine an Apple or Microsoft store type of presentation for these Amazon products," he said.

Among other future uses for the stores Wingo mentioned: drone takeoff and landing centers; apparel measurements by scanner to ensure better fits; and delivery from these stores that could possibly compete with FedEx and UPS.

In other Amazon news, the company plans to add 11 more data centers in Oregon if a state tax issue is addressed. "Central assessment" relates to how property taxes are collected for utilities and telecom companies, GeekWire reported.

"Eliminating the threat of central assessment will permit Amazon to continue to invest in Oregon," said Amazon state public policy manager Eileen Sullivan in testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue. In her remarks, Sullivan reportedly indicated that Amazon could increase the number of data centers in the state to as many as 15.

For more:
- See this Amazon press release
- See this Bloomberg story
- See this Indianapolis Star story
- See this Internet Retailer story
- See this GeekWire story

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