On Tuesday Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos confirmed the company’s plans to open more brick-and-mortar retail stores and expand Amazon Prime member benefits during the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
While still primarily an online retailer, Bezos promised shareholders that Amazon is “definitely going to open additional stores,” but specific details of the expansion remain unclear, including what type of store Bezos is referring to, where and how many stores are planned to open. Bezos indicated that they are still in an experimental phase with their retail stores, commenting that “in these early days, it’s all about learning rather than trying to earn a lot of revenue,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
The CEO also revealed broad plans to expand their Amazon Prime service to include additional benefits for subscribers. Again, Bezos did not disclose precise details, but he said he wants to include enough additional benefits that people feel they are “being irresponsible” if they are not Prime members. One potential new Prime perk that’s been reported is Amazon’s plan to start selling a range of private-label products exclusively available to Prime subscribers.
According to Business Insider, Bezos’ comments about “definitely” expanding their retail presence is “a big step away from some of the previous comments he’s made on the idea of launching a physical retail store,” such as in a 2012 interview where Bezos expressed that he would love to open a brick-and-mortar store, but only if Amazon could have a “truly differentiated idea.”
With the opening of Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar bookstore last November in Seattle, and construction already underway on a second retail store in San Diego, it is suggestive that the e-commerce giant has successfully determined a way of differentiating customer’s shopping experience from traditional physical stores, which have been experiencing sharp decline in sales in recent months.
Some of Amazon’s differentiating retail features are evident in the Seattle store, such as online reviews displayed next to each product and no set prices being shown since the physical store offers up-to-the-minute pricing based on the latest Amazon.com prices. Re/code has indicated that Amazon is also reportedly working on an app that will eliminate checkout lines by allowing “customers to pick an item from a shelf and automatically be charged for it upon exiting the store without stopping to pay at a checkout counter or kiosk.”
With more Amazon stores looming on the horizon, it’s becoming increasingly evident of Amazon’s growing ambition to enter the physical retail category, as well as indicating that the company is confident in brick-and-mortar store’s potential to provide a new lucrative source of revenue for the ever-expanding brand.
Source: The Wall Street Journal