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Amazon’s NYC Bookstore – Somehow I Expected More

by Robert Hetu  |  October 9, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

I had a few minutes to visit Amazon’s bookstore on 34th street in Manhattan the other day.  It was a weekday, late afternoon. This was my first visit to one of Amazon’s stores. Don’t get me wrong I am glad to see bookstores live on, however, I guess I expected something new and different. As I walked in I noticed a sign that said prices for prime customers’ are the same as online, except for devices:

amazon price 2

Amazon’s pricing perspective on display

Okay that is different – but is it the right strategy?  I really don’t think the store is about selling books, so maybe it is the right strategy, but its much like the club store model.  Not new.  From an assortment and display the book shopping experience attempts to mimic online with front covers facing out and product recommendations:

amazon front facing

Front facing covers with reading recommendations.

Not new, long employed by bookstores in at least some displays.  The assortment was not very extensive and these displays were not garnering much shopper attention.  There were large swaths of the store dedicated to Amazon technology devices.  Maybe that is the real star of the show (note the pricing parity)?  But there were no consumers shopping this section.  In fact, the coffee shop was the only part of the store that was busy, while the empty checkout stood in stark contrast:

amazon checkout

Checkout with automation

I thought they would wow me with a differentiated experience.  Net-net I was surprisingly underwhelmed.   It left me wondering what was the point?  Moving into physical retailing will be challenging.


Tags: amazon  unified-retail-commerce  

Robert Hetu
Research Director
6 years at Gartner
29 years IT Industry

Bob Hetu is a Research Director with the Gartner Retail Industry Services team. His responsibilities involve tracking the technology markets and trends impacting the broad-based retail merchandising and planning areas. Mr. Hetu is an expert in the areas of brand, vendor and assortment management, merchandise planning, allocation, and replenishment. Read Full Bio

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