Considered the bane of many brick-and-mortar bookshops, Amazon.com is ironically entering the business with a physical bookstore it is opening in Seattle on Tuesday.
The online retailer sees the store that it is opening in University Village as a physical extension of its online business.
The book store follows several steps taken by Amazon to offer physical outlets to its customers, including order pick up and return counters in shopping centers and staffed pick-up and drop-off locations at universities.
The probable reasoning behind the move to set up a bookstore is that there is still a huge market out there both for books and other products sold through brick-and-mortar stores. E-commerce sales of US$83.9 billion in the second quarter of 2015 accounted for 7.2 percent of total retail sales, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, although online sales are growing.
Some tech companies including Microsoft also appear to be focusing more on physical retail, with specially designed stores to attract customers. Microsoft recently opened a flagship store in Manhattan, with plans for another in Sydney.
People visiting the Amazon store can buy books, or "lighten your load" and buy it online, buy an e-book or add a product to the wish list, Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, wrote in a letter to customers on Monday. Amazon.com is also providing an opportunity to users to test its devices like the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet. "Amazon device experts will be on hand to answer questions and to show the products in action," Cast wrote.
The books will be selected for display in the store on the basis of Amazon.com customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, ratings on its book review site Goodreads, and the company's curators’ assessments. The books will be kept face-out with a review card that will have the Amazon.com customer rating and a review. Users can also access the Amazon app to read more customer reviews and get more detailed information about a product.
Amazon promises that prices at the physical store will be the same as those in the online store. The company did not immediately comment on whether it was planning more physical bookstores.