I was in San Diego for work last week, and while I was there I had a chance to visit a brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstore. I didn’t really have any expectations, but I was curious. I have been a longtime Amazon customer and I value the convenience. I love independent bookstores and I worry about their disappearance, so I support them when I can. One of my favorite things – at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland OR, for example – is the book recommendations from staff. I was really curious to see what the Amazon store experience would be like.
The main entrance had bookshelves on the left, and a technology area (mostly Alexa-related) to the right. Here are a few pictures:
As you can see, Amazon posted reviews from their website along with the books, which gives it that independent bookstore feeling. I really like that they used customer reviews. Another thing they did really well was to share statistics about different books, for example 95% of the people who read this book rated it 4 stars or higher. And then a section like this, focused in books that were snarfed by Kindle readers.
I’m glad I had a chance to visit. I bought a few books, but since my suitcase was already jam-packed, I pulled out my iPhone and put others in my Amazon shopping cart to buy later. Check-out was a breeze – I swiped a card that I use online, the cash register found my account, and I received a 20% Prime discount.
If this business model works for them, I would be interested to see how they expand. More stores, bigger stores? The only thing I would have liked to see was a place to sit and read, maybe with some in-store coffee. But I’ll bet that shoppers probably move around the store and buy more if they don’t have a place to sit.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience, and I think that Amazon has done a nice job creating a compelling in-store experience in a way that takes advantage of the online presence they’ve established.