Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, is reportedly about to do the unthinkable: Open a physical store. The first brick-and-mortar store will be located on 34th Street in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the plans cited by The Wall Street Journal. The store will be a sort of mini-warehouse, with inventory for same-day delivery within the city, as well as offer product returns, exchanges, and pickups of online purchases. Immediacy is a growing trend in online shopping as proven by Amazon’s growing Amazon Fresh service, the popularity of its two-day Prime delivery service, and the birth of curbside pickup startups.
Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc. plans to open its first brick-and-mortar store, according to people familiar with the plans. The site, set to open in time for the holiday-shopping season on Manhattan’s busy 34th Street, would mark an experiment by Amazon to connect with customers in the physical world. Amazon has built its business on competitive pricing and fast shipping. Until now, though, it couldn’t compete with the immediacy of a traditional store. Amazon’s space at 7 West 34th St., across from the Empire State Building in Midtown, would function as a mini-warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery within New York, product returns and exchanges, and pickups of online orders. Opening a physical location is “about marketing the Amazon brand,” said Matt Nemer, a Wells Fargo analyst. “Same-day delivery, ordering online and picking up in store are ideas that are really catching on. Amazon needs to be at the center of that.” Amazon also may consider using the space to showcase inventory, particularly its devices like the Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphone or Fire TV set-top box, according to people familiar with the company’s thinking.