By Rebecca Burn-Callander Wednesday, 08 February 2012

Amazon's hitting the high street

Book shops, department stores, hell, retailers one and all, beware. Amazon is launching its first 'real world' store in Seattle - and it could soon be arriving in a city near you.

Think of a product. Any product. Chances are, Amazon sells it. To prove the point, MT searched for ‘dragon slippers’ and lo and behold. This is why the news that the e-tail giant is going offline (MT doffs its cap to trade blog Good E-Reader for the tip-off) will strike fear into the hearts of many.
 
The ‘test’ store in Seattle, the home of Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks – and grunge – will focus mainly on selling Kindle readers. The details of the opening are still only emerging, but Amazon seems to be following the Apple ‘Genius Bar’ model, creating a customer service hub where Kindle owners can come and get hands-on support and advice.

Why go offline? Why not? Amazon has nothing to lose by dipping its digital toe in high street waters (rather like eBay did over Christmas). The Kindle has failed to create quite the buzz anticipated by CEO Jeff Bezos (he was no doubt expecting a frenzy of iPhone 4-esque proportions). In fact, the firm has been reduced to selling the widgets at a loss with an eye to recouping the losses later with e-book sales. But what if a physical presence can help the Kindle thrive? What if that’s the key to unlocking the Kindle’s potential? That’s what this little store will set out to investigate.

Of course, one store does not an imperial experiment make. MT bets its dog-eared copy of ‘The Art of War’ that Amazon will dot a few of these stores around the US, possibly even beyond. But why stop with pushing Kindle readers? If Amazon fancies opening a megastore up Tedders way, we’ll be down to pick up those dragon slippers before you can say ‘vertical markets’...

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