The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon has opened small kiosks in several San Francisco shopping malls to sell Kindles and accessories. They have Kindles on hand that customers can try in a variety of lighting conditions. The stores are only of two-week duration, and Amazon says they are part of a marketing campaign.
It’s certainly not a marketing campaign I’ve heard anything about. But Amazon does a lot of experimental things in different locations, and is known for its expertise in mining data. Might this be a trial run to see what form brick-and-mortar retail outlets might best take? It will certainly get Amazon plenty of sales data, running the stand during the busiest shopping period of the year.
A lack of brick and mortar outlets is one of Amazon’s biggest weaknesses compared to the stores with which it competes. Only a few physical retail outlets, such as Best Buy, still carry Kindles for sale—most of the others realized Amazon was effectively competing with them in many areas of their business, and decided not to offer a competitor the extra help.
If Amazon opens boutique stores for selling its own products, and adds in-store pickup for customers on the side, it could go a long way toward closing off one of the on-line store’s most significant weaknesses. We’ll just have to see what happens. (Found via The Passive Voice.)