Amazon apparently is planning to open a bricks-and-mortar location at 7 West 34th St. in New York City, across from the Empire State Building—its largest foray into traditional retailing yet. Citing “people familiar with the plans,” the Wall Street Journal reported that the site, which is set to open in time for the holiday shopping season, “would function as a mini-warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery within New York, product returns and exchanges and pickups of online orders.” The space could also be used “as a distribution center for couriers and likely one day will feature Amazon devices like Kindle e-readers, Fire smartphones and Fire TV set-top boxes,” the Journal added.
Amazon’s planned location (Google Street View)
Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer said the online retailer’s strategy is “about marketing the Amazon brand…. Same-day delivery, ordering online and picking up in store are ideas that are really catching on. Amazon needs to be at the center of that.”
Although details about the store weren’t available, the Journal noted that the 12-story building, owned by Vornado Realty Trust, “once housed an Ohrbach’s department store and now has Mango and Express stores at street level.” During a recent conference call with analysts, Vornado CFO Stephen Theriot described the former department store as having “very high ceilings, it has got big, open floor plates and that’s the type of property that a lot of the creative class tenants” favor.
The New York Times indicated that construction and real estate executives said Amazon “would use the building for offices and a distribution center.”
Wired observed that the “biggest advantage of having a high-profile place for shoppers to actually visit isn’t so much shopping but marketing. Having a big Amazon sign along one of the country’s busiest streets is a great advertisement, and inside, Amazon can showcase its own products, like the Kindle, along with a clever selection that serves to sell customers on services like Prime Fresh. In the meantime, the everyday inventory is somewhere in the back to serve same-day delivery customers.”