- Amazon is planning to open a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Chicago next year, the company has confirmed.
- Amazon opened its first such physical store in Seattle two years ago, and plans to open similar locations in San Diego, Portland and other markets. The stores are stocked with books that are popular on Goodreads, and Amazon charges the same prices it charges for the same titles online.
- The bookstores also double as showcases for Amazon products including the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV and Fire Tablet.
The neighborhood Amazon is targeting in Chicago is one of the city's most fashionable, called Southport Corridor, which despite the suggestive name is nowhere near Lake Michigan. It's also nowhere near affordable for many city residents, as rents have jumped the last 20 years along with an influx in new condo buildings, giant rehabbed homes, upscale restaurants, chic boutiques and even big name retailers like J.Crew. (Retail Dive lived there 20 years ago and still lives not so far away.)
That Amazon is moving into this neighborhood is one of those ultimate ironies: Two decades ago, Southport Corridor was home to many independent brick-and-mortar stores (bookstores or otherwise) of the type that Amazon's helped usher out of business with its e-commerce model.
But, of course, that irony is going to play out wherever Amazon launches these brick-and-mortar stores, and after being very tentative about launching its Seattle store in 2014 — even insisting that it was solely focused on that location and not considering future expansion — it suddenly sounds like Amazon is going to quickly ramp up its brick-and-mortar strategy.
Another one of those ultimate ironies: Amazon may want to get into the brick-and-mortar bookstore business because it somehow remains a pretty good business to be in, with local bookstores in different markets thriving on sales of ancillary products like coffee, wine or writing supplies, along with their ability to create positive customer experiences.
Now Amazon is bringing to this revived market some of its signature moves, not only offering cheaper books, but applying data analysis and popularity metrics to help it decide what to put on the shelves. It's also got a new venue for selling gadgets like the Kindle, but why would anyone want an e-book when you can have the real thing?
In other news of how Amazon continues to be both a market copycat and a market disrupter, the e-commerce giant announced Amazon Vehicles, a car research destination and automotive community designed to help customers search and shop for vehicles, parts, and accessories — all packaged with the specs, images and customer reviews we have come to know and love from Amazon.
Though Amazon already has an auto parts section online, the new community seems almost like a morning-after rethink of its recently uncovered plan to offer Hyundai drive tests through Amazon Prime. Maybe Amazon thought, "What the heck? Everyone knows where this eventually is going anyway."