Amazon’s department-store plans are less surprising than they appear

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Amazon’s department-store plans are less surprising than they appear

“THE WORLD wants you to be typical …Don’t let it happen,” Jeff Bezos warned in April in his last annual shareholder letter as CEO of Amazon. Hence bewilderment that his e-empire is to adopt a retail format that is very typical indeed: the department store. Having helped drive many chains out of business, it is now eyeing the format to boost its own retail fortunes.
As a company, Amazon is entering a more mature phase. Now with a new chief executive, Andy Jassy, it is being forced to recognise that pure e-commerce has limits. It is also facing fresh competition from conventional retailers like Walmart and Target that are belatedly showing that they, too, can do the internet well.

Amazon’s high-street presence is small. Since 2015 it has opened 24 bookshops in America. Its 30 “4-star” shops, which stock items customers rate highly, function like a walk-in website. Whole Foods, an upmarket grocer it bought in 2017, contributes the bulk of its physical-store revenues, which accounted for just 4% of Amazon’s total sales in the most recent quarter. Its new Amazon Fresh grocery chain and Amazon Go cashierless stores barely chip in.
So the new 30,000-square-foot (2,800-square-metre) retail spaces it is reportedly envisaging mark a departure. Amazon has neither confirmed nor denied its plans. But leaked details on the…
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