Amazon Steps Into Physical World With First Retail Shop

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Amazon to venture out into the real world with a physical shop in Manhattan, after British eBay and Argos partnership

Amazon made its name and fortune by helping the world accept the online retail experience.

But now the American e-commerce giant looks set to venture forth from its online domain, and establish a presence on the high street – in New York at least.

Bricks And Mortar

Amazon may soon open its first physical shop at a prime site in Midtown Manhattan, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The move to “bricks and mortar” is significant for the company, because until now it has been exclusively an online presence, although it has set up some physical collection points in the past to allow customers to collect their purchases, as well as the occasional pop-up shop.

According to the WSJ, the shop is expected to open in time for the holiday-shopping season. It will located on the same street as Macy’s flagship store, and will be located at 7 West 34th Street, near the Empire State Building in downtown New York.

Amazon delivery pre-emptive parcel return to sender © iQoncept ShutterstockThe Amazon store is expected to sell and display Amazon’s growing product portfolio including its its Kindle line of e-readers and tablets, Fire smartphones and video-streaming boxes. If the store takes off, Amazon may expand to other cities, the WSJ reported.

The store will also apparently have a mini-warehouse to support same-day delivery, returns and order pickups within New York.

Amazon reportedly declined to comment on the WSJ report, although it is said to have previously studied opening a brick-and-mortar outlet for years. It even scouted locations in its hometown of Seattle about two years ago before reportedly scrapping the idea because of insufficient foot traffic.

British Lead

But it seems that Amazon may have been won over, partly as a result of a British experiment.

Amazon reportedly took some inspiration from a partnership deal between eBay and the Home Retail Group Plc in the UK. That deal allows British customers to order eBay goods online and pick them up in a number of Argos stores. Argos will reportedly extend this service to 650 of its stores by the end of this year.

Amazon is not the only one that has sought a presence on the high street. Apple of course is perhaps the best known technology vendor with a physical store.

Microsoft also has a more limited retail presence, and in 2011 eBay opened a temporary shop which it called a ‘Christmas Boutique‘, in London’s West End.

PC maker Gateway also famously experimented with a chain of retail stores in 1996, opening shops in various locations. But it closed its 188 retail shops in 2004.

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