Retailers have battled Amazon’s online retail dominance for years and many have despised its plans to encroach into brick-and-mortar sales. While Amazon’s reign as king of e-commerce might continue for years to come, the company may have just learned how difficult it is to succeed at brick-and mortar retail.
The giant e-commerce retailer has decided to end some of its retail concepts, which might benefit its competitors such as Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Staples and Office Depot.
The Seattle online retail behemoth on Wednesday said it will shut down brick-and-mortar operations at its 68 Amazon Books, 4-Star and Pop Up stores in the U.S. and U.K., according to a Reuters report.
Focusing on Its Grocery Chains
Amazon, however, will continue to focus on its Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market grocery chains, Amazon Go convenience stores and promote its Just Walk Out cashierless technology, a spokesperson said, according to a CNBC report.
The closing of Amazon Books ends the company’s experiment with brick-and-mortar bookstores, which began with the opening of its first bookstore in Seattle in 2015.
Ironically, Amazon’s online book sales, which founder Jeff Bezos launched in 1994, were instrumental in helping to sink the huge bookstore chain Borders. The Ann Arbor, Mich., bookstore chain shut down all operations in 2011.
Amazon opened its first 4-Star in 2018 and its Pop Up stores in 2019.
Amazon 4-Star sells a variety of highly rated customer items, such as electronics, household items, toys, books, kitchenware and beauty products.
Pop Up sells a rotation of hot brands and themes offered on Amazon. Currently, the store is featuring Brother branded office equipment, according to its website.
Amazon Has Closed Stores Before
This isn’t the first time Amazon has shut down the Pop Up concept. The company shut down all 87 of its Pop Up stores in 2019 only to open five new Pop Up stores in malls in 2020, according to Forbes.
Amazon, which purchased Whole Foods in 2017, recently set out to compete against Walmart (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report, Target (TGT) – Get Target Corporation Report, Costco (COST) – Get Costco Wholesale Corporation Report and supermarket chains across the country by introducing fully automated Whole Foods grocery stores managed by robots. This is where its Just Walk Out technology comes in.
In the The Just Walk Out process, customers either scan a QR symbol or their palm when entering a store. The store has hundreds of cameras and sensors placed around products to record the shopping process. Software analyzes purchase activity to detect patterns and increase the accuracy of charges.
Shoppers scan in at the entry gate using the Whole Food or Amazon app, Amazon One or credit card. Then they bag groceries that are scanned by sensors. When finished, they scan out the exit gate and the receipt will be emailed to them.
Just Walk Out provides customers the choice to skip the register for a faster, more convenient shopping experience while offering the same high-quality products and exceptional service from team members as other Whole Foods Market stores, according to a Whole Foods statement.