Are Physical Pop-Up Stores the Secret to Amazon’s Success?

Within the last two decades, Amazon.com has singlehandedly changed not only the way people buy—and read—books, but the massive online retailer has helped to shape e-commerce as a whole. As the company grew in popularity—and success—it contributed to the collapse of various retail markets including, largely, book stores. But as Amazon expanded its business model to begin selling products other than books—eventually becoming the biggest online mall in the world—it really helped to shape how we respond to retail outlets today.

Amazon, indeed, was a part—if not an initiator—of the e-commerce boom, and a result of this boom was a collapse of traditional retailers. Even big-box stores struggled as high overhead and a competitive online marketplace saw consumers shopping more from home to save prices.

But just as Amazon was an innovator then, it seems they are doing it again; but this time, they are moving in the opposite direction. Now, the company has never officially announced the openings of any physical “pop up” stores, but nonetheless, Amazon has been launching them since opening one in the upscale Westfield Mall in San Francisco, in 2014.

Of course, this is a “pop-up store,” so it was intended to be short-lived, but this initial location remains open today.

And this could be indicative of the consumer today as well as the timelessness of the physical need to be able to interact with products. As Amazon develops its brand—and starts developing its own products—it has become increasingly important to deliver that physical sense of intimacy to consumers. Indeed, the company has said, “We offer pop-up kiosks so that customers can try out our new devices and learn about our services like Prime and unique content like Amazon Originals.”

Perhaps the most interesting—and most strategic—aspect of the Amazon pop-up kiosk/store model is that these outlets are operated by the Amazon devices team and not by Amazon bookstore team members. It could be argued, then, that future Amazon pop-up plans are probably in correspondence with the continued development of Amazon’s smart-home assistant device, the Echo.

And still, Amazon continues to “not announce” the launching of these pop-ups. Now, Amazon is not necessarily one to brashly announce their plans (did you know they launched seven private labels over the last year?) but it is expected to pass Macy’s as the world’s leading retailer by the end of next year. Perhaps, these pop-ups are simply a way to better ensure this will happen.

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