Another Amazon 4-star store — a concept first unveiled by the e-commerce giant in New York last month — opens on Thursday in Lone Tree, Colorado, in the Denver area.
Everything for sale in these stores is rated four stars or better on Amazon's website, is a top seller or most wished-for, or is new and trending on the site. In Lone Tree, the assortment includes items that are highly rated or popular among Denver-based customers, the company said in a press release emailed to Retail Dive.
Each item also 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. Right now the stores are prepped for the holidays, with gift guides for seasonal items like toys, electronics and decorations, according to the release.
As in New York, Amazon has adapted its latest brick-and-mortar retail concept to a store's local area, but the company likely has further to go as a merchandiser.
The haphazard nature of the assortment stems from the very approach: Many of Amazon's most popular items are run-of-the-mill consumer goods. "It's definitely a compelling concept and will no doubt garner attention," Doug Stephens, founder and president of the Retail Prophet advisory firm, told Retail Dive in an email. "That said, I don't see this on the same plane as a Story concept, in that the most popular products on Amazon are also likely to be the least unique and surprising — which I believe true retail magic is all about."
Story is the magazine-style retail concept that rotates merchandise and partnerships based on a theme and was recently acquired by Macy's. "I'm certain the Amazon store will be an efficient, effective and logical way to find items, but like most things Amazon, I'd be surprised if it was regarded as fun, social or highly engaging," Stephens said.
Amazon is likely to continue to fiddle with its 4-Star store as it learns how consumers behave in it. But at the moment, as Instinet analysts found in their own visits, it's lacking as an appealing method of curation. "When the world is your curator, 4-Stars may be too low of a bar," Instinet analyst Simeon Siegel told Retail Dive in an email on Wednesday. "Perhaps 'Amazon 5-Star' is the answer."
Nevertheless, despite its faults, it is curation, and that gives Amazon an edge over many legacy players, according to Stephens. "4-Star Amazon is simply doing what every merchant in the world should be doing — offering a curated assortment of products that they believe will delight their customers, not on the basis of which vendor bought the most space, or which products deliver the greatest margin percentage," he said. "That such a simple idea has become revolutionary speaks volumes about the condition of the retail industry."