Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar store was scheduled to open in Seattle on Tuesday morning, two decades after the company launched as an online-only retailer. The long-rumored Amazon Books was to open in University Village, an outdoor mall north of the University of Washington campus, the company announced Monday.
“Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, said in a statement. “We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping. ”
Amazon is hoping that the data it has been meticulously collecting on customers’ buying habits online will serve its physical store well, tailoring its products to customers in a manner other physical bookstores can't. Cast told the Seattle Times that below each book on the shelves will be cards featuring either reviews or ratings taken from Amazon.com.
“It’s data with heart,” Cast said. “We’re taking the data we have and we’re creating physical places with it.”
The store will also serve as a space for customers to physically handle Amazon devices, such as the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV and Fire Tablet. Cast said the store was employing Amazon experts to answer questions about the products and demonstrate how to use them.
The store, measuring 5,500 square feet of retail space and 2,000 square feet of storage, will stock 5,000 to 6,000 titles including best-sellers and Amazon.com customer favorites -- all at the same prices as featured on the website. Unlike traditional bookstores, Cast said Amazon Books will stack books on the shelves with their covers facing outward, rather than their spines. The goal, she said, is to showcase the titles rather than save shelf space.
Amazon has previously ventured into brick-and-mortar retailing, setting up physical kiosks in shopping malls to sell devices, and launching several college campus locations for students to speak with Amazon representatives and pick up or return packages.