If forced to choose one word to describe Amazon, I think “unpredictable” would be a strong contender. Jeff Bezos and co. are never content to sit still and are always up to something interesting. From producing original and award-winning programming like Transparent to out-of-left-field ideas like delivery drones, Amazon is anything but boring.
The most recent interesting news concerning the world’s largest online retailer is that it may be planning to open up 400, count em’, 400 bookstores nationwide. Of course, the irony here is terribly thick given that the emergence of Amazon eventually spelled the end for any number of brick and mortar bookstores, not the least of which was Borders. And so now, apparently, Amazon may be coming back to reap the rewards of what they helped destroy.
During an earnings conference call on Tuesday, General Growth Properties (GGP) executive spilled the beans, noting: “You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400.” For those unfamiliar, GGP owns and operates a large number of shopping malls across the United States.
While the claim is arguably outlandish at first glance, remember, with Amazon it’s always wise to expect the unexpected. Besides, it’s worth remembering that Amazon did open up a brick and mortar bookstore in Seattle this past November.
Amazon’s Seattle bookstore has no apparent delivery component, though people familiar with its operations have said the retailer is using it to experiment with stocking shelves quickly using nearby warehouses and doing other types of data collection.
GGP’s Mr. Mathrani suggested another possible motivation for Amazon to open a chain of physical stores: returns. The CEO of the Chicago-based company said 38% of online purchases for what are known as soft goods, such as clothing and paper products, are returned to brick-and-mortar locations.
So is there any merit to these claims? Well, Gizmodo, interestingly enough, writes that “anonymous Amazon sources” are none too thrilled with Mathrani’s remarks, categorizing them as “misleading.” At the same time, multiple sources within Amazon have also refused to issue Gizmodo an “on-the-record denial.”
Take that as you will.