Amazon finds “a lot of value” in its brick and mortar stores and has announced the opening of another in California, bringing its overall tally to nine.
The company has announced a new location in Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, California, for which it is currently hiring store managers and associates.
The Walnut Creek bookstore joins its others in Washington Square, Oregon, University Village in Washington, a second California store in Westfield UTC and five more opening in 2017 in Southport, Illinois, Legacy Place in Massachusetts, Marketsreet Lynnfield Massachusetts, Garden State Plaza in New Jersey and Shops at Columbus Circle in New York.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “We are excited to be bringing Amazon Books to Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, California and we are currently hiring store managers and associates. Stay tuned for additional details down the road.”
The company’s chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said the e-commerce giant sees “a lot of value” in its physical bookshops because they are “a really great way for customers to engage with our devices and see them, touch them, play with them and become fans”.
Olsavsky was speaking during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call in response to a question by Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak, who asked what the company had learned from its brick and mortar stores.
“We have three physical stores; Seattle, San Diego, and Portland right now,” he said. “We see adding five more this year. So we're still in that phase where we're testing and learning and getting better, even on the bookstore.”
He added: “I would say there's other things that are physical in nature, the pop-up stores and college pickup points that we learn from as well, and think creates a great value particularly at the college pickup points. So not much projection beyond where we are today except for the fact that we will be adding more bookstores. But we test, we innovate, we think the bookstores for instance are a really great way for customers to engage with our devices and see them, touch them, play with them and become fans. So we see a lot of value in that as well.”
The firm opened its first Amazon Go store - a check-out free grocery store - in Seattle in the fourth quarter last year.
Olsavsky said: “We think that (Amazon Go) is very interesting. It's only one store at this time, but it's using some of the same technologies you would see in self-driving cars, computer vision, sensor, fusion, deep learning. So it's a great accomplishment by that team. It's in beta right now and we like the promise of that.”
Last week The Sunday Times reported that Amazon was looking at two dozen retail sites in London, suggesting it was planning to bring Amazon Go grocery stores to the UK. However, Amazon declined to comment on the report.
UK booksellers have previously reacted strongly to the suggestion that Amazon might open a brick and mortar store in Britain.
At the time Amazon opened its first bookshops in Seattle, Emma Corfield Walters from independent Bookish in Crickhowell said: "I would be absolutely horrified if it opened in London. I would be worried about it. If they’re able to harness that massive buying power they have and bring it to the high street… I don’t know if it would wipe out small town bookshops, but certainly bookshops in big cities.” While James Daunt, m.d of Waterstones, said he hoped the venture would "fall flat on its face".
However, some publishers welcomed the Amazon stores, with Faber’s c.e.o Stephen Page saying he was “unsurprised” by the move seeing as “all retail is moving towards omni-channel retailing”.