Last week, Amazon opened the doors to its latest retail store in SoHo New York, Amazon 4 Star. We were able to stop by this store to check out the hype, snap a few photos, and explore the merchandising strategy. This concept, like its others, provides the brand’s signature differentiator – convenience – to consumers. However, Amazon 4 Star provides convenience and ease in a way that’s distinct from its former concepts. While Amazon Go makes it easy to purchase frequency items and Amazon Books makes it easy to access top book titles on demand, Amazon 4 Star is positioned to make discovery easy.
Crafted by consumer reviews, Amazon 4 Star brings together what’s novel and popular and showcases top-rated, best-selling or new and trending online to an offline environment. Products are merchandised in a variety of ways. In some cases it’s by category and in others Amazon algorithms determine the arrangement.
Example category displays include: travel basics, pets, home décor, kids toys, kitchen, stationery or books. Example algorithm displays include: frequently bought together, new + trending toys, hot right now, or top selling around NYC.
There’s also a section that features Amazon Launchpad products that are a selection of the best and brightest startups. Undoubtedly, the biggest product presence in the store is entertainment and electronics. From kids tech to wearable tech and speakers to smart home, the store showcases the latest devises that are capturing customer clicks. Notably though, excluded from the store’s offerings were apparel, accessories and beauty categories.
From a pricing and purchase standpoint, digital displays and promotion of the app were prominent. Each product had a digital display that included the latest rating, number of reviews, and both the normal and Prime price. In-store signing encouraged customers to pay with the Amazon app or the credit card associated with their account for seamless transactions. And if you needed help with payment or product, Amazon associates were throughout the store to assist.
While the store clearly generated buzz and was busy, there was a lack of inspiration and design. It was cramped with the dark fixtures and crowded aisles, and left a bit to be desired in overall store experience. The flee-market style harkens back to the days of old Sharper Image stores with limited logic put into the layout of products - like a water pitcher next to a book and a tea kettle along side an Echo. All that said, there still is something to be said about millions of opinions manifesting in a physical format of crowd-sourced product. As we head into the holiday, it will be interesting to keep watch on how this store performs and how it evolves with the season.
Visit the Amazon 4-Star store at 72 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012