A new report by the New York Times details an array of initiatives by Amazon to expand its footprint in brick-and-mortar retail. The stores would mostly feature products, such as groceries and appliances, that have proven persistently difficult to sell online.
Amazon is already moving forward on groceries in particular, and will soon open two Seattle outlets where shoppers can pick up orders made through AmazonFresh online. It aims to open up to five more of these pickup locations across the U.S. by next year. They could be a boost to the grocery delivery service, which sources told the Times has struggled to make a profit.
Another idea making the rounds is a larger Amazon grocery store in which shoppers could browse fresh produce and meat, while packaged goods could be assembled into orders by workers in an attached warehouse. The Times’ sources disagreed on whether that concept was still under development.
Also apparently in the early stages is an idea for an Amazon electronics store, modeled on Apple stores, that would feature Amazon’s own devices. Another concept is a home furnishings and appliance store that would feature augmented reality ‘showrooms’ to let shoppers both see products in person, and envision what they would look like at home.
There’s more certainty about Amazon Go, a convenience store that promises frictionless checkout and payments. Despite technical hurdles, Amazon aims to open Go outlets across Britain and the U.S., also by next year. The report also details a push for physical grocery stores in India, dubbed “Project Everest,” for which Amazon has already sought Indian government approval.
Though many of these stores are still little more than concepts or tentative experiments, analysts describe a strategy mixing online and offline retail as crucial to Amazon’s continued expansion.
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