Amazon store The Internet is abuzz with the word that you might soon be able to buy a new Kindle at an actual Amazon (AMZN) Store.

The e-commerce giant is reportedly opening its first pilot store in Seattle, something of a boutique operation that will feature Amazon exclusives like the Kindle e-reader, Kindle Fire tablet and its proprietary e-books. So why might Amazon -- which has become the nation's biggest online merchant, in part, by avoiding the overhead costs of operating stores and deftly skirting state sales tax laws to offer shoppers super-low prices -- start flirting with bricks-and-mortar retailing?

Experts suggest It could be that Amazon, which is big on experimentation, wants to test out its brand in a real-world store that's as much about the experience as it is about the products -- akin to what Apple did with the Apple Store.

Amazon, which declined to comment when asked by DailyFinance to confirm the report, "is a company that will try anything once," said Kenneth Wisnefski, founder and CEO of Webimax, which develops online marketing strategies for retailers such as Aéropostale (ARO) and Sam's Club (WMT).

Amazon's quirky founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has fostered a culture of experimentation that can make the retailer seem like a renegade in the retail sector: It's a public company that acts more like a private firm, more interested in taking risks than soothing Wall Street. The company conducts "hundreds" of experiments daily, and many of them fail, Bezos said last year during a conference held by ShopSmart, Consumer Reports' shopping magazine.

Higher-End Focus Another Direct Shot at Barnes & Noble


But if Amazon can figure out a fresh way to bring its idiosyncratic take on merchandising to a brick-and-mortar store, it will be in step with the move toward "experiential retailing," which is where forward-thinking companies are headed these days, Wisnefski says. Retailers like the Apple Store (AAPL) and Starbucks (SBUX) "are turning more of the product [selling] model into an experience, where it's less about being a traditional retail store," he says.

The Amazon Store will reportedly focus on selling higher-end products like the Kindle, which require more customer service -- a move that hits Barnes & Noble (BKS) right where it hurts. (Of course, Amazon has already pummeled Barnes & Noble by single-handedly imperiling the future of the bookstore format -- but this move is something else again.)

Barnes & Noble, the country's only remaining national book chain, has until now boasted that unlike Amazon, the retailer can offer free in-store customer service support for its Nook e-reader. A chain of Amazon Stores would nullify that advantage.

An Amazon Showroom, a 'Working Billboard'

Given that Amazon has moved far beyond its book-selling roots, hawking everything from consumer electronics to apparel and home furnishings to become the nation's fifth-largest retailer, it's quite possible that an Amazon Store could eventually carry a wide range of products, which could be a "win-win" for both shoppers and Amazon, Bob Lambert, CEO of The Digital Firm, which provides industry market analysis, tells DailyFinance.

For one, the retailer could tap into a new base of customers: those more inclined to inspect a product in person before buying it, be the purchase a bag, refrigerator or Blu-ray player.

And Amazon Stores could serve as merchandise showrooms that would complement the retailer's well-oiled product distribution model, which was designed, in part, to find consumers the lowest price, Lambert says.

It's conceivable that in its own store, Amazon shoppers could browse the merchandise and then search on Amazon.com for the best deal, as the company not only sells directly to consumers, but also through third-party retailers. "For consumers, it adds another way for them to comparison shop, and for Amazon, it adds another channel of distribution," Lambert says.

But Craig Johnson, president and CEO of retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners, says an Amazon store could mostly be a bid to make a bold marketing statement, a kind of "working billboard."

Of course, there's always the possibility that shoppers won't warm up to the idea of Amazon as a brick-and-mortar store, as brands that carve a niche in one area don't always thrive in a different venue.

For example, Gateway's computer stores flopped, and Disney's foray into retail has been spotty, Johnson says.



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HectorG

But I suppose that Amazon is not going to abandon internet, isn't it?

February 10 2012 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gary

If a store is opened in Texas, there will be a state (6.25) and city (2.0) sales tax levied. This would cut back on online sales.

February 09 2012 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jamesnpost

I have over 20 books self-published on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, things I could never have done with old-fashioned publishing. Amazon's CreateSpace is the easiest and most inexpensive way to get published, and pays great royalties, the best in the POD industry far as I know. I have created several aStore bookstore webpages which create a little cash flow every month. By me, Jeff Bezos is a hero, and Amazon is top cutting-edge service. www.postpubco.com

February 09 2012 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
booklady1225

as soon as they become a brick & morter store we all will have to pay taxes on everything we buy and that will lead to no more free shipping. for those of us in the boonies with no chance to get to a standard store - i cannot get to even a best buy its over 70 miles away - and they will be abandoning all of us that reley on amazon to try to stay within a budget and yet get the newest movies and books and thats not even to mention at xmas time to be able to save and have delivered items within a budget and with tons of choices. its a horrible idea and will hurt many people. with the cost i also feel they will raise their prices.

February 09 2012 at 2:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Don

Good idea hope they expand all over the country, great comptition( (sic) shaky hands at 77yrs old kind of put up with it)

February 09 2012 at 1:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Ron

The sad thing is the slave driving greedy capitalist pigs who run Amazon would need to change their ways and remember that it takes workers who are taken care of properly to make a company strong and respected.Unfortunately Amazon and many like them have forgotten about the workers, just like the slobs who have outsourced all of our jobs to China and India and Mexico inorder to engage in legal slavery overseas. Shame on all of our neighbors who pretend to be upstanding, churchgoing, god fearing Americans who get on the airplane and engage in legal slavery. What a total farce our system is. Capitalism really is a big joke created by thieves and charlatans. I AM NOT A PROPONENT OF COMMUNISM OR SOCIALISM OR ANY ISM I am a proponent of fairness and decency. Unforunately NONE of these systems are founded on any of this.

February 09 2012 at 11:28 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Todd

It will be a mess. The appeal of Amazon is searching online and finding what you need. A brick and mortar store is limited by the inventory it can keep on hand, sales taxes and overhead.Unless it's just an order pickup place like the old dept stores and stocks the highest selling items, who wants that when you know what you're getting and have it sent where you want it anyways? Apple stores work because they are specific to Apple products, service and training. This is completely opposite to what Amazon was designed to be originally.

February 09 2012 at 11:12 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Al

It might be worth a trial run.

February 09 2012 at 10:45 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jml1018

it would defeat the purpose of waiting for an online order

February 09 2012 at 10:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rottsfromhell

If people only knew how employees are treated at Amazons distribution centers their view of the company would change. And no, I'm not a disgruntled employee, but I did work there. I personally experienced their nonsense.

February 09 2012 at 9:18 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply