Amazon is seeking to open a chain of department store-style retail outlets across the US to give customers an in-person option for the purchase of clothing, electronics and household goods, as well as facilitate exchanges.
The online behemoth is a late convert to the value of bricks and mortar retail having been held largely responsible for the demise of shopping streets and malls the world over, but now senses an opportunity to reshape urban centers in its own image.
Amazon is mounting this surprising push as traditional retailers continue to shut up shop.
Having established a near-monopoly in online shopping, Amazon is eyeing sites in Ohio and California for its first batch of real-world stores stretching to no more than 30,000sq/ft, with even Amazon conceding that the days of giant 100,000sq/ft plus stores are numbered.
Reports in the Wall Street Journal suggest that Amazon will use the venture to prioritize sales of its own branded goods in categories such as clothing, furniture and electrical goods, although nothing is set in the mortar just yet.
Despite perceptions, Amazon is not a complete stranger to our shopping streets, having previously ventured beyond its comfort zone with its first physical outlet as far back as 2014. The e-commerce giant is also pioneering a new breed of cashierless Fresh grocery stores around the world.