Amazon unveils yet another store concept: Amazon 4-star
The company already dominates online retail, and now it's expanding into physical stores too.
Ben Fox RubinFormer senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Amazon apparently isn't done testing out new store concepts.
On Wednesday, the company introduced Amazon 4-star, a physical store in New York's SoHo neighborhood that includes products that are rated 4 stars and above, are top sellers, or are new and trending on Amazon's website. The new location will include devices, consumer electronics, kitchen wares, home products, toys, books and games. Digital price tags at the store will show both list prices and reduced prices for Prime members. Amazon 4-star opens to the public Thursday.
The new store joins Amazon's growing list of store formats, including Amazon Books bookstores, Amazon Go convenience stores, Amazon Pop-Up kiosks at malls, Amazon college pick up and return centers, AmazonFresh Pickup grocery locations and Whole Foods supermarkets.
Despite that long list of names, Amazon operates just a handful of most of these stores, such as 17 Amazon Books outlets and two AmazonFresh Pickup locations. Whole Foods, which Amazon purchased last year, has 460 grocery stores.
Amazon 4-star is part of the world's largest online retailer's work to expand into physical stores. While Amazon dominates e-commerce in the US, taking in nearly half of all online sales, it's still a much smaller player in physical retail, where the large majority of consumer sales still happens. For Amazon to keep up its huge growth, it may have to keep building up its stores.
With so many store concepts, it seems clear Amazon is still experimenting and hasn't yet landed on a single top store idea it could expand to many more cities.
Amazon's move into physical retail also comes with considerable irony. While Amazon tinkers with store ideas, its website continues to be blamed for the closure of local stores and the thinning out of regional malls. After it was blamed for causing the Borders bookstore chain to close down, Amazon years later started opening its own bookstores.
The new store borrows some concepts from Amazon Books, which includes only titles that reach 4-star ratings online or are anticipated new releases, and relies on data from Amazon.com to stock its shelves.
Though there are now a lot of Amazon store concepts, it should still face a lot of competition from traditional retailers with more stores and more experience in physical retail. Plus, with many more people buying online today and Amazon constantly speeding up its deliveries, a major competitor to Amazon 4-star may be Amazon.com.
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