NYC Store Gives Amazon Omnichannel Edge

Amazon's first retail store will land in New York City on West 34th Street, rubbing shoulders with icons such nearby neighbors as the Macy's Herald Square flagship, according to a Wall Street Journal report unconfirmed by the retailer.

The company is also planning pop-up holiday locations in the Bay Area, slated to open on Oct. 22, according to Geek Wire. "We’re excited to open new pop-up kiosks in San Francisco and Sacramento in time for the holidays so that customers can try out our new devices," a spokeswoman told Geek Wire. "While customers can already see our products online and at retailers like Best Buy and Staples, we wanted to provide another option to try out our full line-up leading into the holidays."

The New York location reportedly will double as both a store and a warehouse, enabling shoppers to buy online and retrieve purchases in-store.

Despite Amazon's overall dominance in the retail landscape, the decision to open physical stores is expected to help the company level the playing field against true omnichannel competitors and improve profits to satisfy antsy shareholders.

As RSR analyst Paula Rosenblum writes for Forbes, "The combination of stores and digital presence is the best way to gain long-term and sustainable profitability. It flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but nonetheless, it’s true.  And retailers know it. In fact, in my company’s most recent annual eCommerce benchmark study, only 12 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement 'The future of online commerce lies more with cross-channel or merged channel capabilities.'"

Amazon will face a number of challenges as it becomes an omnichannel retailer, namely keeping up its legendary customer service levels when associates will be dealing with customers face-to-face. 

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