Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has finally opened its first brick-and-mortar location, and fittingly, it's a book store in the retailer's hometown of Seattle.
The online retailer decimated the traditional book-selling model when it launched with the category in 1995. Since then, bookstores have been on the endangered retailer list, but Amazon isn't just planning to position the concept on low prices, it's using the massive amounts of data gathered to personalize the experience for Seattle shoppers.
The bigger challenge will be in creating an inviting space that feels personal beyond the targeted titles.
"It's data with heart," Jennifer Cast, VP of Amazon Books, told The Seattle Times. "We're taking the data we have and we're creating physical places with it."
The 7,500 sq. ft. store has 5,000 sq. ft. of retail space and will display all titles as front facing rather than spine out. Staff will select and write recommendations for favorites—including one written by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' wife, MacKenzie Bezos. The customer reviews and ratings that helped make Amazon the retail powerhouse it is today will also be available in-store.
The location will not serve as a pickup or drop-off site for Amazon shipments. However, the store will showcase Amazon e-book and streaming media products, including Amazon Fire tablets and TV devices, and Kindle readers.
Amazon's entry into the brick-and-mortar space, beyond the occasional pop-up focused on the house-brand electronics, has been eagerly anticipated and rumored for years. But Cast was careful to call the store a test rather than the first of many.
"We're completely focused on this bookstore," she said. "We hope this is not our only one. But we'll see."
-See this story in The Seattle Times
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