​Amazon to open first physical store

As the holiday shopping season draws near, the e-commerce giant is about to take its fight with retailers offline, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
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Amazon's past experiments with physical locations included large storage lockers, but this is the first time the company is committing to an actual storefront. James Martin/CNET

Amazon will open a physical store location in New York, just in time for the holiday shopping season, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The site, which will be located across from the Empire State Building, will serve as a warehouse and storefront for the e-commerce giant, unnamed sources told the Journal, which referred to the store as an "experiment." The store would allow customers to order an item online in the morning and pick it up at the store in the evening. The location will also process returns and exchanges.

Amazon did not confirm or deny the report.

"We have made no announcements about a location in Manhattan," Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman told CNET.

The store lets Amazon move even deeper into the brick-and-mortar retail industry's market. The Seattle-based company has long trumped retailers in shipping speed and service, but it has yet to try running a physical store. And though online sales are increasing steadily, most retail transactions still take place in physical stores. By the end of this year, 6.5 percent of sales will come from online shoppers, and 1.2 percent will come from people shopping on mobile devices, according to eMarketer.

Having a physical location and delivery options like same-day pickup was one of the key advantages stores had over Amazon. The new location will also give Amazon a chance to show off its hardware line, which now includes e-readers, tablets, the Fire TV set-top box and the Fire Phone.

The company has toyed with physical locations before, opening pop-up shops and mall kiosks for its e-readers and tablets, and placing huge metal lockers in various locations for package pickup.

Update, 12:47 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Amazon.