Amazon Will Close Over 80 Small Kiosk Pop-Up Stores

Mar 7, 2019
Originally published on March 7, 2019 6:42 pm
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Amazon says it's closing more than 80 of its pop-up stores where it lets customers try out and buy its devices offline. But Amazon is hardly giving up on its brick-and-mortar ambitions, as NPR's Alina Selyukh reports.

ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE: The Amazon pop-up store has been one of the more understated endeavors by the company. They're those little kiosks you might see in a mall or a department store like Kohl's where staff will teach you to use Alexa or, Amazon's holy grail, sign you up for Prime. Now these kiosks are going away. Here's Kohl's CEO Michelle Gass on her company's earnings call on Tuesday.

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MICHELLE GASS: We've made the decision to transition from the store-within-a-store concept to a more robust wholesale relationship with Amazon.

SELYUKH: Basically, Amazon figured out it's better to just sell its devices normally on store shelves like at Kohl's or in Whole Foods, which Amazon owns. Note, Amazon is an NPR sponsor. And Amazon will keep growing its other retail locations, the bookstores and the store called Amazon 4-star, which sells a hodgepodge of items highly rated on amazon.com. But all those physical stores are pretty small potatoes for a giant like Amazon, says Edward Jones analyst Brian Yarbrough.

BRIAN YARBROUGH: The big opportunity that - the story is obviously in the cloud business, the advertising side of things and then the biggest sales opportunity becomes in grocery.

SELYUKH: Grocery. It remains one of Amazon's biggest ambitions. Online grocery shopping has yet to go mainstream. Many people don't trust strangers to pick out their produce or meat. It's now very competitive. Walmart, Kroger, Target have all expanded their curbside pickup, and delivery has proven tricky. It's expensive. The food spoils. Amazon's huge purchase of Whole Foods so far has not brought much change to the grocery business. The organic chain has not become a supermarket for the masses or a prominent hub for Amazon's packaged deliveries.

YARBROUGH: Over time, if they really want to get into grocery and be serious and be successful, I think they're going to have to own more locations than just the Whole Foods.

SELYUKH: And Amazon has been adding new locations. Bloomberg reports it plans thousands of cashierless convenience stores called Go. And The Wall Street Journal says Amazon also plans a new more mass-market grocery chain - all this to become everyone's store for everything and get more Americans to subscribe to Amazon Prime. Alina Selyukh, NPR News.

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