Amazon has a "secret plan" to open a "bricks-and-mortar" location in London's swanky shopping district, The Times of London reports, citing discussions with landlords. The Web-only retail giant mostly denied the report, but left a little wiggle room for partnering with established storefront retailers. Still, if it isn't already, should Amazon consider giving interested customers a physical location to pick up their Web purchases? (Watch a report about Amazon's price war with Wal-mart)
Why would Amazon want to pay London rents? Amazon opening a walk-in store? "Sounds pretty crazy to us," says Kat Hannaford in Gizmodo. There's a certain amount of sense in giving customers a place to "get their hands on a Kindle, or perhaps pick up a TV they pre-bought on the website," but why would Amazon trade its "winning formula" for the "massive overheads" of a central London store?
"Amazon to open physical store in UK?"
The timing is right, if Amazon is ready: Actually, desperate commercial landlords are lowering rents, says Douglas McIntyre in 24/7 Wall Street, so it's "a particularly good time to get into the retail store business." And it would hardly be a pioneering move — Apple has scores of successful retail stores, and Microsoft just got in the game, too.
"Amazon may open 'bricks-and-mortar' stores"
And if Walmart can go online...: It would be a "huge strategic shift," says Eric Engleman in TechFlash, but remember, Amazon now sells TVs and other large items, "which aren't as easy to mail" as its traditional book and CD purchases. And it would be "fascinating" to see Amazon take on Walmart and Target, just as those traditional retailers "try to catch up online."
"Amazon to open brick-and-mortar retail shops in Britain?"
Relax, it could just be a UK thing: If Amazon goes physical, that doesn't mean it will hit malls in the U.S., says Chris Matyszczyk in CNET News. According to "industry insiders," Amazon could be reacting to "the EU tinkering with distribution regulations." And Britain might be a safer bet than the U.S. — it already has a thriving "click-and-collect" market, thanks to e-retailers like Argos.
"Amazon to open bricks-and-mortar stores?"