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Amazon to join the high street jungle

Amid a torrent of online chatter and speculation, it appears that Amazon is to open its first physical store in a bid to stay competitive and aid expansion
 Amazon's Kindle range
 
 

Written by Jonny Williamson

In a move seen as contradicting current trends, the world’s biggest online retailer Amazon allegedly has plans to open its first bricks and mortar store in Seattle, Washington, birthplace of the company and location of its headquarters.

Seattle is seen as the perfect launch place with a thriving tech-savvy population, causing many to see the idea as an experiment to gain valuable experience and gauge the market reaction as to whether a chain could be profitable or not. 

The proposed store won’t, as some expect, be a cavernous warehouse, but will have more in common with small boutiques, offering items from Amazon’s growing range of high-end exclusives, such as eBook Kindles and other tablets, as well as more inexpensive items, cases, screen protectors and USB adaptors.

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The company is looking to support its Kindle range as much as possible, having invested heavily in the original Fire and the up-coming release of the Fire II. However, with fourth quarter profits from 2011 much lower than expected, it has been speculated that they are selling their latest Android tablet at a loss, a tactic which could prove successful in the long run.

 It seems that books from Amazon’s recently started publishing division will also be displayed in store, news which comes only days after rival book retailers Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million (BAM!) announced they are refusing to sell any of Amazon’s own books.

The exact date for the planned opening can only be guessed at, but could coincide with the announcement of the Kindle Fire II later on this year, or take advantage of the increased sales the festive holiday season generates. 

Though a global giant with huge brand-awareness, Amazon seem to be considering things carefully,  taking its time in starting out small and locally, rather than rolling out a whole chain straight away. Known for business efficiency and low-prices, there would seem to be small room for error, however the ability to deepen relationships with new and existing consumers through hands-on demos and increased customer service could give Amazon a new edge when competing against biggest rivals Apple and the success it has had with the Apple Retail Store.

Rumours of a similar venture circulated some years ago but nothing came to fruition, so with no official confirmation from Amazon themselves, only time will tell whether the company seen by many as the downfall of the local high street, actually ends up becoming a part of it.

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