Amazon’s brick-and-mortar retail plans currently focus on its ongoing roll-out of physical book stores, as well as its very limited experiments with cashier-less convenience, but it could expand those ambitions significantly with a number of plans currently in the works. The New York Times reports that it’s also exploring ways it might retail appliances and furniture, two categories of goods that consumers are traditionally reluctant to buy online.
The company also has been “quietly” moving forward with plans to build new brick-and mortar stores for India, where the market is still dominated by open-air street bazaars, the NYT says. This so-called “Project Everest,” as it’s referred to internally at Amazon, includes government partnership, which could help it overcome some of the growing hurdles its encountered with its own Amazon Fresh U.S-based offering and unlock potential in one of the world’s largest markets.
Back home, the potential for selling furniture and large appliances via brick-and-mortar stores are seemingly intended to address one of the few weaknesses in the online model: Few are willing to pick up a new refrigerator or sectional without actually taking a look at the thing in real space with their human eyes first. Amazon wouldn’t just adopt existing showroom models for these efforts, however; the NYT says it’s looking at various unique sales tactics, like employing VR to show shoppers how the furniture pieces or other large items might look in their actual homes.
Amazon has also looked into the possibility of creating a grocery store that’s part warehouse, with instant delivery for goods that can be frozen, with a more traditional open retail environment for fresh goods. Items from the back room, where less perishable stuff resides, would be packed on demand and delivered to customers to go along with their fresh product purchases.
The report stresses that all of Amazon’s big retail store concepts are still exploratory, and could never see the light of day. But it’s true that other online-exclusive retailers who followed Amazon into specific niches, like Frank + Oak, Bonobos and Warby Parker, have seemed increasingly to see the value of also doing retail – so Amazon could derive big benefits from a mixed model, too.