Amazon announced today that it is opening an Amazon 4-star tomorrow in New York City (h/t Geekwire). The concept of the new physical store is that it only stocks products that are rated 4 stars or higher, is a top seller or is new and trending on Amazon.com.
Products are carried across categories including consumer electronics, toys and kitchen. A photo included in the Amazon blog post shows an array of countertop kitchen appliances such as a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer and a ChefSteps Joule sous vide wand. Another picture shows a digital price tag on items listing the actual price and the price Amazon Prime Members pay, in a move sure to spur some new sign-ups for the service.
The store will also feature localized categories such as “Trending around NYC,” as well as bundles of products à la items “frequently bought together.”
The idea of a physical store that openly separates the wheat worth buying from the crappy chaff is actually quite smart, and really, Amazon is probably the only company that can pull it off. Amazon has become the de facto place to research user reviews (even trusted recommendation sites like The Wirecutter consults them). For instance, on Walmart.com the Instant Pot Duo60 has 196 customer reviews. On Amazon, that same device has more than 28,000, plus another 1,000 answered questions.
By leveraging its massive database of comments and sales data, Amazon will be able to precisely stock its shelves with products that are already proven to move. Ideally, this means it can pack a lot of sales into not a lot of space. It’s like the opposite of a big box store.
But Amazon 4-star also provides another layer of convenience for customers. For those who don’t want to — or can’t — wait two days for that Lodge cast iron mini skillet, they can run out and get it (and while they are there, maybe even make an additional impulse purchase).
It’s also another step in Amazon transforming our relationship with retail. Not even counting the fact that the company got everyone comfortable with the notion of purchasing things online in the first place. Amazon reportedly plans to open 3,000 of its Go stores, which feature cashierless technology that allows people to grab what they want and leave without going through a checkout line. Its Prime Now shopping service allows for same day delivery of products. And its purchase of Whole Foods last year has spawned an arms race among grocery stores to get you your groceries in the fastest, most efficient way possible.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see how many stars the Amazon House gets.
The Amazon 4-star store opens tomorrow in the SoHo neighborhood in NYC at 10 a.m..