Is Amazon trying to replicate Apple Stores?

October 9, 2014 03:37 PM Inc. this year reportedly will open its first bricks-and-mortar store, a location along 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan this year.

In choosing that location and not, say, the e-retailer’s headquarters city of Seattle, the No. 1 merchant in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide seems to be following the “Apple Store approach” of going for the most foot traffic, says Scot Wingo, CEO of marketplace management services company ChannelAdvisor Corp. and a close Amazon observer.

An Amazon spokeswoman this afternoon declines to comment on or confirm the report in the Wall Street Journal that says the e-retailer’s planned store near the Empire State Building would enable same-day deliveries and in-store pickups of online orders. “We have made no announcements about a location in Manhattan,” the spokeswoman says, declining further comment.  

Amazon in 2009 filed a patent for a store concept, but it is unclear if that’s the design Amazon would use in Manhattan. Wingo doubts Amazon would build the store based on the patent design. “We thought they would start with this, but it seems like they are skipping that for a multi-tenant building,” he says.

Analysts this afternoon had more questions than answers about an Amazon store, and at least one other e-commerce observer was skeptical about an Amazon bricks-and-mortar location. Amazon’s “key value is huge assortment and cheap shipping to my home. Both of those seem limited with a model like this, no matter what it ends up being,” says Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research Inc. “What I think is important to call out is that Amazon's valuation depends on it being a technology company and platform.  This as far from that as one could possibly get.”

The Amazon store would represent the e-commerce giant’s latest attempt to to offer greater convenience for its customers. It has recently contracted with the U.S. Postal Service, for instance, to deliver groceries to online shoppers and for Sunday deliveries in certain markets.  Amazon also operates lockers where online shoppers can pick up their orders, catering to shoppers who won’t be around their homes for deliveries or those who live in apartment buildings without doormen to accept packages. UPS announced a plan yesterday to offer pickup points at local stores, targeting consumers in densely populated areas that hesitate to buy online because they have no easy way to receive parcels.




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