Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Amazon Bringing its Books Business to Buckhead

Amazon is bringing their Amazon Books retail concept to Atlanta next year.  The store, which will be located in Buckhead's Lenox Square, will be located on the mall's main level near its Peachtree Road-facing entrance.  A Mercedes-Benz holiday pop-up store currently occupies the space in which Amazon will eventually open.  ToNeTo Atlanta has thus far been unable to confirm the exact duration of the Mercedes-Benz shop, but sources say it is expected to be open through Christmas.  
Amazon Books at University Village in Seattle
The build-out of the nearly 5,000 square-foot store, the first in the Southeast, is expected cost about $1.5 million, according to permits filed with the City of Atlanta Tuesday.  

Seattle-based Amazon opened its first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle’s University Village shopping center in November 2015. There are currently 12 Amazon Books stores, with at least four more, including Atlanta, in the immediate pipeline.  

Lenox Square, owned by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, will be the first Simon property in which an Amazon Books will open.  Current Amazon Books stores are located in properties owned by Westfield Corporation, The Related Companies and The Macerich Company, among others.  Thus far, no Amazon Books are located within General Growth Properties (GGP) owned malls/centers.   This could be because of a statement made by GGP CEO Sandeep Mathrani last year.  During the General Growth earnings conference call early last year, Mathrani alluded to Amazon's possible plans to expand Amazon Books.  He made the remark in response to a question about mall traffic, according to a Wall Street Journal report.  "You've got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400," Mathrani said.  Mathrani later clarified his statement indicating that the comment he made concerning Amazon was not intended to represent the company's plans. 

The opening of Amazon Books at Lenox Square would mark the return of a book retailer to the popular mall after over a decade.  Adidas today occupies the former Waldenbooks space at Lenox Square while Urban Outfitters occupies the former B.Dalton space.  Over at Phipps Plaza, the former Doubleday Book Shop is today occupied by Justice while the former Borders Books & Music at nearby Buckhead Triangle is today home to The Container Store.  

Barnes & Noble in The Peach Shopping Center is the only other primary book retailer that still exists in Buckhead. 

Earlier this year, Amazon opened one of their "pop-up" shops at Lenox Square, near Bloomingdale's.  The pop-up sells the company's portfolio of consumer electronics devices, including Kindle e-readers, Fire HD tablets, and voice-assistant speakers, including The Echo and The Dot.

Amazon Books stores take advantage of the copious amount of data Amazon has on its online customers' browsing, buying and reviewing habits, offering customers’ suggestions based on their interests.  "We select books based on customer ratings, pre-orders, sales, popularity on Goodreads, and our curators’ assessments," according to Amazon's website.  

In the stores, books are displayed face-out and under each book is a review card with the customer rating and a review.  Similar to the online experience, if a shopper spots a book they know they liked, a sign on the shelf lets them know that the four to five books next to it are "suggested reading." Customers can scan the cover of the book or the barcode using the Amazon mobile app on their smartphone to find out more about the book, including its price. 

"Prices on all items for Amazon Prime members are the same as from For customers who aren't Prime members, Amazon devices are the same price as from; books and other items are sold at list price."

Are you excited for the return of a book store to Lenox Square?  Where do you buy physical books today?  Do you think Amazon will find success in operating brick & mortar bookstores?

Please share your thoughts below.  

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