In November 2015, Amazon opened its first brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle. Two years later, 13 stores have opened in the U.S. with plans to open even more. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go into an Amazon Bookstore in Los Angeles and it was interesting to say the least. At least my thought was. “Why would Amazon open a brick and mortar?”
Well, Amazon is pretty genius. The store’s layout is reminiscent to the online experience they offer. While they have books organized within general categories and sub genres, they are also organized based on “Highest Rated on Amazon” or “Favorite Holiday Books.” There are also stations for you to try the Kindles and Echos. In a sense, it’s like shopping online, but you can physically interact with the items in the store.
This most interesting part of the store is that there are no visible prices. Each item has a place card that has a review from Amazon.com with a barcode below it. With the Amazon app, you scan the barcode and it brings up the product listing for that item revealing specs, price, and reviews. Prime members get to price match items based on the Amazon.com price, while non-members pay full list price for the item. You even pay at the register by scanning a QR code on the Amazon app to pay with your phone. While Prime membership is overall popular, this is another way to entice more people to join Prime buy offering more than just free two day shipping.
Amazon may have opened a brick and mortar in a time where storefronts are suffering, but they have made an immersive buying experience out of it. They are selling a sentiment rather than a product. Even with the store laid out similar to searching online. While the offerings in the bookstore are limited to what you could buy online, who knows what the future holds for Amazon in this endeavor. As more stores open across the U.S., we’ll see how customers react and if there is a rise in Prime membership.