It seems like once a week, Amazon unveils something new – whether it’s an investment in India, acquisition of video game streaming sites or a phone that fizzled. We can’t help but stand back and watch, amazed and in awe of how fast the company moves in an already fast-paced industry. This time, rumors are abuzz that Amazon plans to open a brick-and-mortar store right in the middle of Time Square. The store would sit on 7 West 34th Street, right across from the Empire State Building and only a block east from the flagship Macy’s store, which served as the backdrop for the iconic 1947 Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street. Though the retail space stands to poise itself as a brick-and-mortar location, it will not operate as a showroom for customers to buy from. Which leaves us to wonder – what the heck is it?
Analysts estimate that Amazon’s first public warehouse will serve as a place to make returns, pick-up orders, and enable retailers to offer same-day delivery. This is a reality that Amazon has been inching closer to. They currently have about 75 fulfillment centers in the U.S., with approximately 15 more to open soon, not to mention to 30 in Europe and 35 in Asia. By opening more fulfillment centers, Amazon creates the opportunity to speed up the shipping process, due to their proximity to customers. A store in Manhattan will allow them to test our their same-day delivery model, and see if the investment is worthwhile in other major cities. Beyond the Big Apple, they’re rumored to start trying Sunday shipping nationwide – a service their competitors don’t yet offer.
Additionally, an open-to-the-public warehouse will allow consumers to test out Amazon’s line of handheld tech. Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, thinks that’s Amazon’s strategy. Few retailers sell Kindles, and according to Bajarin, there is still a segment of the population that wants to get a hands-on feel of the product before purchase. “They want to see the product up close, and have it shown to them,” Bajarin says. It could also serve as a second chance for Amazon’s Fire phone, which decreased in price from $199 to $1 in just two months. After underwhelming sales of the Fire phone, maybe Amazon is hoping for a miracle on 34th street.
Why do you think Amazon would open a mini-warehouse in Time Square? Do you think it’s about selling the Fire phone?