Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, is reportedly about to do the unthinkable: open a physical store.
The first brick-and-mortar store will be located on 34th Street in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the plans cited by The Wall Street Journal.
The store will be a sort of mini-warehouse, with inventory for same-day delivery within the city, as well as offering product returns, exchanges, and pickups of online purchases. Immediacy is a growing trend in online shopping as proven by Amazon’s growing Amazon Fresh service, the popularity of its two-day Prime delivery service, and the birth of curbside pickup startups.
The upcoming store could also be a place for Amazon to display its consumer electronics devices, including its Kindle line of tablets and its Fire phone. Online retailers Bonobos and Warby Parker, for example, have also opened brick-and-mortar stores for that purpose.
Amazon has been experimenting with physical locations and retail in multiple ways over the years. It already has Amazon Lockers around some cities where customers can pick up or exchange orders, and it has hosted pop-up Amazon Web Services lounges in downtown San Francisco as well as pop-up Kindle vending machines in some U.S. malls. Its Zappos and Quidsi units each have one retail location.
The planned store is in a building owned by Vornado Realty Trust, which houses Mango and Express stores at street level. The nearby Empire State Building attracted 4.3 million visitors last year, and Macy’s flagship location a block away sees more than 20 million visitors annually, according to the 34th Street Partnership.
If this first store is successful, Amazon could eventually open additional locations across the country, according to the Journal’s sources.