Amazon on Wednesday announced the opening of a store concept in New York City's SoHo neighborhood, where everything for sale is rated 4 stars or better, is a top seller or is new and trending on the site.
Each item for sale sports a "digital price tag," which lists its average star rating and number of customer reviews it's received, along with the Amazon Prime price, list price and the savings through Prime, according to a company blog post. Non-Prime members can sign up for a free 30-day trial to receive the better price in store.
Items in the store include games, kitchen appliances, electronics, and an assortment of Echo and Fire products.
Amazon is no longer a brick-and-mortar newbie, but the e-commerce giant is hardly a veteran, either. The e-commerce giant now runs bookstores, cashierless convenience stores and the Whole Foods grocery chain.
The new store is premised on one of Amazon's greatest strengths online — its star-rating system and customer reviews, which shoppers have come to trust. The average star rating of all the products in the Amazon 4-star store is currently 4.4, and, together, all the products there have earned more than 1.8 million 5-star customer reviews, the company said in its post. The store is also embellishing those ratings with other designations, including "Most-Wished-For," (items that most often land on Amazon.com's wish lists), "Trending Around NYC," (popular products ordered in the NYC-area) and "Frequently Bought Together."
But it remains to be seen whether these successful online maneuvers will translate to brick and mortar, or whether Amazon is able to grasp how stores connect with their customers. According to CEO and Founder of Retail Prophet Doug Stephens, Amazon's website isn't all that fun to shop.
"As a shopping experience, Amazon is about as elegant and enjoyable as a chainsaw," Stephens wrote in a Business of Fashion column earlier this month. "But like a chainsaw, Amazon is purpose-built to do one thing and one thing only; to deliver the largest selection of products with the greatest level of speed and convenience… period. And if you know what you're looking for, it's a sharp tool that works brilliantly."
Add to that Amazon's problem of increasingly dubious sales and reviews, which is escalating as its dependence on its third-party marketplace grows. The e-commerce giant has previously sought to maintain the integrity of reviews on its site, including taking those posting fake reviews and even its own marketplace sellers to court.