We Visited Amazon's New Bookstore. The Innovations Made Us Rethink the Possibilities of In-Store Retail

Amazon's latest brick and mortar bookstore in New York City breathes new life into the traditional retail model.

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By Rose Leadem • Aug 31, 2017

Rose Leadem

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Over the past two years, Amazon has opened 11 bookstores across the country, and its most recent one is in the heart of New York City. The second of its kind in Manhattan, this new Amazon Books location opened Aug. 29 and features more than 3,700 titles along with tech gadgets such as the Amazon Kindle, Fire and Echo.

Related: Is Amazon's First Brick-and-Mortar Bookstore the Future of Retail?

Amazon Books presents a new, innovative approach to not just bookstores, but retail broadly. While shopping online is a completely different experience than shopping in a store, Amazon is trying to bridge the two. Its brick-and-mortar bookstores are easy to navigate and well labeled, with items organized by popularity -- just as they commonly are online.

At the front of the store is a table of books that are “Highly Rated” on Amazon.com, meaning they have received an average of 4.8 stars or above in user reviews. To help guide your purchase decision, you can also read some of those Amazon.com reviews. Plus, the store features a section called “Books With More Than 10,000 Reviews on Amazon.com,” which reflects the website’s option to filter books by their number of reviews.

Related: 3 Entrepreneurial Lessons From the Amazon/Whole Foods Mega-Merger

While there are store clerks all around the shop to answer questions and assist customers, the store is so logically designed, there’s no need to ask for help to find something. But bookworms be warned: You’re not going to find any obscure titles at Amazon Books. Unlike specialty bookstores, Amazon Books carries only the most popular and most reviewed books from its website. Of course, what you don’t find in-store is likely available on Amazon.com.

Here’s how Amazon Books is paving the way for a new style of shopping.

Rose Leadem

Provides information to help customers make purchasing decisions.

Traditionally, when you’re shopping in a store, no user reviews are on display for you to read before buying a product. Amazon Books, on the other hand, has a “Highly Rated” section with select user-generated book reviews.

Related Video: How Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos lives with NO REGRETS and How You Can Too

Rose Leadem

Uses data to help create a better store setup.

Amazon uses the data it collects online and through its tech products to design a store setup that predicts what customers want. Need a quick read? There’s a section called “Books Kindle Readers Finish in 3 Days or Less” that will help you find something fast.
Rose Leadem

Helps customers narrow their options.

Sometimes, stepping foot into a store can feel overwhelming. There are so many choices that shoppers end up wishing they’d done their research beforehand and come in ready to buy. At Amazon Books, pertinent information is on display for customers, and there are suggestions for those who are undecided. One area is labeled “100 Books to Read in a Lifetime,” and it contains picks from the Amazon.com list of the same name.

Related: How to Survive as a Brick-and-Mortar Retail Store

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Organizes items by category and rating.

The store goes above and beyond in its setup, making it easy to find any book you’re looking for, as long as it’s in the store’s inventory. It also provides the ratings and reviews for books within specific categories. For example, one section of the store is labeled “Highly Rated Science and Nature Books,” and it features titles rated 4.5 stars and above on Amazon.com.
Rose Leadem

Provides reviews and star ratings for every book.

On the tag of every book, Amazon Books provides a customer review, along with the book’s Amazon star rating and the number of reviews the book has received.
Rose Leadem

Shares the top books on online users’ wish lists.

Sometimes it can be hard to actually click the “buy” button on a product, and instead, items often make their way onto customers’ virtual wish lists. Amazon Books shares this information with customers in aggregate in a section featuring the “Most Wished-for Books on Amazon.com.”
Rose Leadem

Tells you what’s popular in your area.

Amazon has collected enough data through ecommerce sales that it can tell Amazon Books shoppers what the most popular books in their city are. At the new 34th Street store in Manhattan, there’s a section of “Nonfiction Top Sellers in New York,” and throughout the store there are other stands that display NYC top sellers in other literary categories.
Rose Leadem

Lets you test Amazon Fire TV and Echo products.

The store isn’t only about selling books. It’s also a showroom for Amazon gadgets. Shoppers can test Echo and Fire products, with areas in the store dedicated to each product.

Related: How Retailers Are Thriving Despite the Supposed Death of Their Industry

Rose Leadem

Lets you pay through the app.

While paying via smartphone isn’t a new concept, it does make the checkout process more efficient. There was no waiting in line at this store when we visited, because people could quickly pay using their Amazon app and account.
Rose Leadem

Gives Prime members perks.

If you’re a Prime member, you get to pay the same price for a book in the store as is listed online, while non-Prime shoppers have to pay a special in-store price.
Rose Leadem
Rose Leadem is a freelance writer for Entrepreneur.com. 

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