Should Amazon build a brick-and-mortar store?

Rumor has it that the premier online retailer is taking a page from Apple and opening a retail 'boutique' in Seattle. Does this compute? The critics weigh in.

By Feb 7, 2012 1:44PM

Image: Woman making purchase (© Tim Pannell/Corbis)Online retail giant Amazon (AMZN) will open its first retail store in just a few short months, according to Michael Kozlowski at Good E-Reader.

Citing "Amazon sources close to the situation," Kozlowski says the company is planning to take the "small boutique route," opening a high-end, Apple-like shop in Seattle that focuses on Amazon Exclusives books, Kindle e-readers and tablets, and other accessories. If the store is a hit, Amazon would expand nationwide. This is clearly still just a rumor, but even if Amazon isn't truly thinking of getting physical, should it be?

An Amazon store is madness: Amazon flirting with brick-and-mortar retailing "may be a sign that 2012 really is the year of the apocalypse," says Peter Pachal at Mashable. Yes, it worked for Apple (AAPL). But it would be "a strange move for a company synonymous with the efficiency and convenience of online retail." Amazon thrives because it pioneered the art of foregoing the overhead costs of real-world stores. Embracing them now is "akin to Google creating a microfiche search service."

Actually, this would be a good move: Amazon is "not an online seller, it's a seller," says Ryan Kim at GigaOm. And a curated space to showcase Amazon's growing collection of Kindles and other branded products could help. Why should these gadgets simply "vie for shelf space in Best Buy"? A retail shop would also give Amazon a place to sell the books from its new publishing house, which stores like Barnes & Noble won't stock. This "would be a big turning point for Amazon, and one that ultimately makes sense." 

Let's not get too worked up about this rumor: The market isn't wild about the idea: Amazon's stock sank Monday, says Dan Mitchell at Fortune. But investors and bloggers are overreacting. This isn't even the first time Amazon store rumors have popped up. It was only in December when we heard that Amazon was considering "big, Costco-like stores." And even if the latest rumor is true -- so what? A trial Amazon store "might work . . . or it might not." If it's a hit, great. And "if not, it won't be a great loss," for Amazon or us.

More from The Week:
Feb 7, 2012 2:20PM
Amazon is to big to ever be a "box' retailer.   So what, they open a store to sell kindles, that's not really "brick and mortar."
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