Will Amazon open physical stores to sell Kindles, Kindle Fire tablets?

Will Amazon open physical stores to sell Kindles, Kindle Fire tablets?

Summary: Like Target before it, Wal-Mart has severed ties to Amazon's e-readers and slates. Rumors are circulating that Amazon might sell them directly from its own bricks-and-mortar stores instead.

TOPICS: Tablets, Amazon

Late last week Wal-Mart announced that it will no longer sell the Amazon Kindle and Kinde Fire in its stores, joining Target in in rejecting the devices. While the argument could be made that the razor-thin margins on those products contributed to that decision, the real reason is clearer: Amazon's tablets are a gateway to easy ordering from Amazon.com, which means fewer sales for Target and Wal-Mart.

Proof of that is the fact that Wal-Mart is still selling the iPad, the Nook, and the Google Nexus 7, amongst other tablets. Other bricks-and-mortar retailers are still onboard with the Kindle family, including Best Buy, Office Depot, Radio Shack, and Staples. 

Still, losing Target and Wal-Mart means that Amazon has far fewer locations to let consumers see Kindles and Kindles Fires in person before purchasing. Considering the runaway success of Apple's retail stores and Microsoft's decision to open more than thirty pop-up stores to sell its new Surface tablets, would Amazon decide to emulate its competitors?

According to Reuters, there's speculation that Amazon will open physical stores to put the Kindle products in front of more consumers. Given how quick it is to get pop-up stores up and running -- they are "pop-up" stores, after all --  the company could still conceivably establish locations before the holiday shopping season, now that the largest retailer has wiped its flagship product off its store shelves. 

Amazon sells the vast majority of its Kindle devices on Amazon.com already, but potential buyers doing some research at the mall may miss out on an opportunity to see them up close while checking out competing tablets. Do you think it would be a good idea for Amazon to open physical stores to sell the Kindle and Kindle Fire? Let us know in the Talkback section below.

Topics: Tablets, Amazon

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  • Happening already in UK

    Waterstones bookshop in the UK is currently setting up a Kindle store in one of it's main branches, and possibly elsewhere, though it won't be opening till October so not sure about 'pop-up'.

    also not sure if it will sell diect or just allow hands-on, presume the former.
    John Forbes
    • Tesco

      ... and Tesco sell the full Kindle range too. Normally on the next aisle end to the one selling low margin iPad's :-)

      Tesco Global#3 Retailer, after Walmart. and snapping at the heels of ailing Carrefour.
  • Gotta wonder

    Gotta wonder how long before Best Buy follows suit. Internet shopping is a real threat to brick and mortars, especially now that Amazon is moving toward a model that will see same-day shipping to many locations. Selling Kindles is basically like stocking a competitor's catalog on your shelves.
  • Take it to them...

    Amazon should blitz the big box stores by setting up kiosks in malls as close to the retailers as they can. The Kiosk only has to have a wifi spot so people can try out the Kindle flavors and an ample supply of stock. The new Fire HDs are likely on the Christmas list of the family (though I've abandoned my Fire for the N7) and Amazon will be charging tax here soon, so I'll go to grab the devices locally. If Wal-Mart and Target don't want to make a buck or two off me and probably the chance to sell me $30-40 in accessories for each Fire, then OK.
    • With Amazon having a "physical presence" in 50 states with Kiosks...

      Think of all the taxes Amazon would have to collect.

      Not a chance.
      • Fait Accompli

        Some states have already closed this gap and may more are on the way. The Amazon receipts already list "Total before tax:" and "Tax Collected:" lines. So in the states where they are already collecting tax or will be within a year, it would be little impact. In the states where the legislatures haven't moved yet, Amazon may want to hold off this holiday season.
  • I'm not thinking big enough...

    In addition to the Kiosk with Fires to try out, add a few terminals inviting people to compare prices online at Amazon before buying locally. Put up posters advertising things like:

    "Free Shipping and Gift Wrapping available"

    "Why lug it home, wrap it, and then take it to the Post Office? One stop to Shop, Wrap, and Ship"

    "Are they out of stock? We aren't!"

    "If you had a Kindle Fire HD, you'd be home shopping by now..."
  • Kiosks / Pop-ups with No Inventory

    They may want to follow the model that Gateway attempted years ago with a few subtle changes.

    Setup kiosks in the malls and/or small pop-up stores that allow people to check out the Kindle line and then, if they want to buy one, they can order it right there before they leave. They can create a new Amazon account or access their current account to place their order and get free next day or second day shipping.

    This would allow Amazon to bypass having inventory on hand if they can promise the consumer guaranteed delivery within a day or two. They get brand new customers as well as repeat customers and they keep their costs down.
    • Yes, but...

      It is a great way to indoctrinate people into the Amazon Ecosystem and by that I mean the entire Amazon experience of being able to buy everything from Chai Tea to Chains for your 4-wheeler. One key advantage that brick and mortar stores have is Instant Gratification. Don't underestimate how many things are purchased on impulse. You may capture people who want an iPad, but they can't or won't wait in the line at the Apple store, so they drop by to see the Amazon kiosk. They may still buy an iPad, but they buy it from Amazon instead.

      Remember, Amazon can play at this game also. They do currently sell the iPad and Nexus 7, but as their base of Fire users grows, there will be less and less incentive to sell competing devices.
      • True

        Good point. A lot of people definitely like the gratification of buying something and walking out of the store with it versus having to wait a day or two. Maybe Amazon has the best of both worlds...stock on-hand with the ability to allow quick delivery if they happen to run out.
        • Buying without trying

          Yeah, I know what you mean, robsommers. My dad is very old-school, and he won't buy ANYTHING that costs over about $20 or so, unless he has played around with it in his own hands... and even then, he's three or four times more likely to buy it if he can walk out of the store with it instead of having to order it. He gets very nervous about having his credit card info floating around. Of course, he only has dialup internet, too, so that's a problem!
          Tony Burton
  • Will Radio shack sell it?

    So considering how Radio shack needs business. I'll bet they will be happy to sell the Kindle Fire.
    Especially getting closer to the holidays. But considering that Amazon tells us they don't make much on the Kindle Fire itself and hope to mak it up on content. I believe Amazon may be happy Wal Mart and Target are dropping it. In fact maybe Amazon just said, we are not giving you the margins you want. I don't see a problem with what is happening. I never bought much electronics from Wal Mart anyway.
  • Hmm...

    I have to admit that I don't go into Walmart much anymore (maybe twice in the past year). Target on the other hand is more frequent, as we use their pharmacy.

    We don't have a Kindle fire, so that has nothing to do with it, but we do most of our purchasing on Amazon, with Amazon Prime we get free two day shipping and the prices are usually at least 30% lower than at Walmart or Target for the same brand and many times even cheaper than that if I am willing to get a different brand, model or color as they have more selection as well.

    I have to imagine that the Kindle Fire would make most people even more apt to shop on Amazon, so I can see why Targets and Walmarts would want to stop selling them.
  • Taxes!

    I don't think this will ever actually happen due to sales tax rules. Amazon keeps moving its distribution centers to avoid having to charge sales tax due to having "an in-state presence." If they are going through that difficulty to avoid charging sales tax to customers, they certainly aren't going to open pop-up shops (which certainly don't have the same ambiguity that distribution centers do) and give up the competitive advantage of not charging sales tax. This idle speculation is a non-starter.
    Matthew Straub.
    • Agree

      Agree completely.
  • Unlikely to happen

    The problem with this argument is whether Amazon will be willing to change their low cost model for this higher cost model. Remember Amazon generated high profits by not being in every mall.
  • Kindles, Kindle Fire tablets

    i can tell you how to make it better take google off of it and that will work. google sucks
  • Not going to happen...

    if the company is smart. Their business model blows up when they start become retailers, and it's not just taxes either. The smart move is Nationwide 2-Day or less shipping as a standard with Distribution Centers to cover it, like Wal-Mart has in over 30 states.
    • It's not about becoming a retailer

      This is more or less a marketing campaign to show people the advantages of their product over others. I wouldn't see them wanting to open and stock a retail store, just a kiosk to show off the product in a way that you can touch and feel.

      That may be the overall solution. Don't sell them, just open the Kiosk so people can test drive them and have knowledgeable staff to answer questions. Make it a roadshow.