Amazon set to close bookstores, other retail stores shift to groceries and fashion

Amazon.

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com Inc. plans to close dozens of bookstores and other outlets it had opened in recent years to showcase best-selling products, as part of a broader shift the tech giant operates in its physical retail strategy.

The e-commerce giant said Wednesday it plans to close stores to focus on its grocery stores and the technology that powers them at other retail sites. Amazon operates more than 20 bookstores across the United States, mostly “pop-up” locations in malls and “4-star” stores. These outlets sold some of its best-selling items, from electronics to kitchen products. The company has 66 such stores in the United States, a spokeswoman said.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company remains “committed to building physical retail experiences and technologies for the long term, and we are working closely with our relevant employees to help them find new roles at the within Amazon”. Reuters had previously reported the story.

Amazon, which started as an online bookstore, opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle in 2015. It tried to differentiate stores from competitors by offering discounts to Amazon Prime customers, offering its own devices for testing and selling, and creating a highly curated selection of books based on a rating system. The opening of Amazon bookstores was seen as a surprise expansion in the brick-and-mortar book industry, which had been derailed by Amazon’s years-long dominance in online book sales.

Amazon has grown strongly in brick-and-mortar retail since 2015. The company bought Whole Foods Market in 2017 for over $13 billion, and has since added to its lineup with a set of cashless stores named “Amazon Go as well as his more conventional Amazon. Fresh groceries.

Amazon’s technological innovations have been particularly present in its “Go” and grocery stores. Beginning with Go stores, Amazon has begun equipping many of its outlets with dozens of cameras and other technologies, including palm scanning for entry or checkout, that allow shoppers to purchase items without having to go through a checkout line. The company recently opened its first cashier-less Whole Foods store near Washington, D.C.

Cashierless stores have proven popular with customers, but some retail analysts have questioned whether the cost of using the technology might be too high for what is typically a low-margin industry. Amazon has started licensing its cashierless system to other retailers, and executives have suggested it could work in much larger stores.

While over the years the company has used its influence to expand into new markets, the decision to close some stores shows the challenges it has faced in gaining a foothold in brick-and-mortar retail. Sales in the company’s physical store segment declined from 2019 to 2021, reflecting a decline in in-store purchases throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amazon recently began exploring the potential of department store-like outlets that could offer clothing and deploy other potential technologies, including the ability to use QR codes and other technologies to make in-time recommendations. real to customers. The company announced in January that it would open an “Amazon Style” store in the Los Angeles area using this technology.

Company executives want to see if prospective clothing stores can improve brand recognition of their fashion items while tackling some of the irritants of online shopping, people familiar with the matter told Wall Street. Newspaper last year.

Robots or other forms of automation could eventually be used in clothing stores, the people said.

Write to Sebastian Herrera at [email protected]

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