Twenty years after Amazon.com famously upended the brick-and-mortar book business, the e-commerce giant is going to open a physical bookstore of its own.
Amazon said that on Tuesday morning it will open a store called Amazon Books in the University Village neighborhood of its corporate hometown of Seattle.
The foray by the online innovator into this most old-school style of retailing seems to be a reflection of how shopping continues to evolve in the digital era. While the industry once thought the Web might be the death knell of brick-and-mortar retailing, many are now bullish that the two channels will work in concert, with shoppers bouncing between physical and online retailing. (And many studies find that consumers who shop online and in stores are the biggest spenders.)
Amazon said it used customer ratings, sales data and other information to curate the selection of books in its store. It says the prices will be the same as those that shoppers see on its website.
“Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com,” said Jennifer Cast, Amazon’s vice president of books, in a message posted on the company’s Web site. “We’ve applied 20 years of online book-selling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.”
The company also promised that all books would be displayed face-out on shelves, so customers can easily browse them, and said that their Amazon customer ratings and reviews would be displayed alongside the books.
In addition to books, the company will also showcase its hardware devices, including the Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet.
Amazon did not specify whether it intends to open more stores, nor did it immediately respond to a request for comment. However, in an interview with the Seattle Times, Cast said about the new store, “We hope this is not our only one. But we’ll see.”
Amazon may be the largest e-commerce retailer yet to make the leap into physical retailing, but it is hardly the first. In recent years, Bonobos, Rent The Runway, Blue Nile and Harry’s have opened stores, hoping they can engage with customers in a different way.
Amazon this week also said it will give new fathers paid parental leave and extend paid maternity leave for mothers, as the online retailer seeks to enhance its benefits as a way to attract and retain talent.
Women who have a child can now take as much as 20 weeks of paid leave, up from eight weeks. New parents can take six weeks of paid parental leave. The Seattle-based company previously didn’t offer paternity leave. The new benefits apply to all births or adoptions on or after Oct. 1, according to a memo distributed to employees Monday.
Amazon’s changes come three months after video-streaming service Netflix Inc. raised the bar on time-off for new parents in August by offering as much as one year of paid leave to new mothers and fathers in the first 12 months after a child’s birth or adoption. At Facebook Inc., mothers and fathers get four months paid leave plus $4,000 in “baby cash,” while at Google Inc. employees are entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave. Microsoft Corp. in August said it would offer 12 weeks of paid time-off for all new parents. Bloomberg News contributed.