15 Photos and Observations on the Amazon 4-star Store in Suburban Denver

Thus far, reviews of Amazon 4-star have ranged from, “It’s the place to find things you never knew you needed,” to, “It’s a confusingly random assortment of items,” to, “It’s all an ad for Amazon Prime.”

We went to the new Amazon 4-star in the Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, 20 miles south of Denver on a random Tuesday evening. It’s one of just three Amazon 4-star stores to open thus far. Here are some of our observations.

The store is located on the second floor of the mall, across from a Macy’s and a Tommy Bahama.

Selection is heterogeneous from shelf to shelf. For example, stationary, beauty, and gifts for pets are adjacent on one wall.

An entire wall section is devoted to Hallmark greeting cards.

An island is set up featuring Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. There is also another table just devoted to Ring devices.

Another island is dedicated to iRobot devices. It’s the only island or table dedicated to a single non-Amazon brand in the store.

A table features top selling local items. The selection here is also heterogeneous. A smoke + carbon monoxide alarm, a Reese Witherspoon book, Samsung MicroSDXC cards, and clicker pens are adjacent to each other.

Another table is devoted to Amazon exclusive items, primarily toys.

A table near the front of the store is devoted to additional toys.

Another table near the front of the store is devoted to Amazon private label home decor items. For example, ceramic bowls from Stone & Beam.

Another table is devoted solely to AmazonBasics private label goods. This table primarily features kitchen accessories.

Here’s a close-up of the AmazonBasics Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven and its accompanying information card. “Looks like a Le Creuset,” one browsing customer commented.

Multiple tables are devoted to highly rated books. Prior to opening, Amazon said this store was going to be an Amazon Books, presumably in an effort to keep the fact that it was going to be a 4-star store under wraps.

Price tags display item titles, star icons, star rating, review count, non-Prime-member price, and Prime-member price. A bar code is on the side.

This is the staff area for checkout. We didn’t see a lot of in-store purchasing happening during our visit. Staff were usually out and about in the store talking to customers and arranging inventory on shelves and tables. A lot of customers were taking pictures of items in the store, presumably to consider purchasing them later.

By the entrance/exit is a HappyOrNot customer feedback station. Kids seemed to enjoy pressing the buttons multiple times on their way out.

Amazon Opening Holiday Pop-Ups in Milan, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, London, and Amsterdam

Just a few weeks after Amazon Fashion’s first popup in the UK, Amazon is launching a series of Christmas-themed pop-ups in capital cities across Europe for the holidays. Amazon will be opening pop-ups in Milan, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, London, and Amsterdam.

Amazon says it will call its first pop-up in Italy “Amazon Loft for Xmas.” It will be open from 16 to 26 November at no. 14 via Dante near Piazza Cordusio and Piazza Duomo in central Milan. The space will be about 500 square meters (about 5,000 square feet).

“With Amazon Loft for Xmas we want to give the opportunity to all those who wish to experience a unique and innovative experience linked to the Amazon world,” said Mariangela Marseglia, Country Manager of Amazon.it and Amazon.es. “We will recreate the environment and the soul of a house where we will gather all the most appreciated brands from our customers who have made possible the realization of this great project in Milan, for us a very important city because it has hosted the offices for 6 years of our Italian headquarters. Even with projects like this, which represent an added value for all citizens, we are convinced of consolidating our link with the city.” (This is a Google Translation of Marseglia’s original quote in Italian.)

The store will feature a mix of product categories, including technology, fashion, household goods, fitness, and beauty. Amazon will feature both its private label brands, such as Aurique, Find, Iris & Lily, Meraki, and Truth & Fable, as well as products from Disney, Garmin, HP, Lego, Microsoft, and Sony. Products will have QR Smile Codes that customers can scan with the Amazon app to get more info and buy. Amazon will also have various Alexa demos set up.

Amazon will also be running events during the 10 day period, including live performances and workshops. The popular Italian music duo Benji & Fede is scheduled to make an appearance next Saturday.

Amazon says the full list of participating brands includes Garmin, HP, P & G brands Oral B, Dash, Braun, Gillette, Swiffer, Fairy, Pantene, Head & Shoulders and Olaz, Clementoni, Disney, Kena Mobile, Lego, Microsoft, Asus, Foreo, Furbo, Geomag, Huawei, Illy, IMC Toys, Mars, Mediaset, Moulinex and Rowenta, Peg Perego, Philips Hue, Rizzoli, Scholl – Veet – Durex, Seat, Sony Mobile Communications, Sony Electronics, Sony Music, Sony Pictures and Sony Interactive Entertainment (PlayStation), and Visa.

Third Amazon 4-star Store Opens Today in Berkeley

Four days after the opening of the second Amazon 4-star store in a suburban Denver mall, Amazon is opening its 3rd 4-star store today in Berkeley, California.

The TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map has been updated to reflect today’s opening.

“Amazon 4-star on Fourth Street” will be open 10-8 Monday through Saturday and 11-6 on Sunday.

The Fourth Street location is in a shopping corridor in Berkeley. It appears to have possibly been formerly occupied by a Crate and Barrel Outlet store that has closed.

The 2nd Amazon 4-star Store Opens Today on the 2nd Floor of a Suburban Denver Mall

Five weeks after the opening of its first Amazon 4-star store in SoHo in Manhattan, Amazon is opening its 2nd 4-star store today in the Denver suburb of Lone Tree.

The TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map has been updated to reflect today’s opening.

“Amazon 4-star at Park Meadows” was previously listed by Amazon as an  “Amazon Books at Park Meadows” location opening soon. Amazon either changed its plans for the location, or always planned to make this location a 4-star but didn’t want to name it that prior to the first 4-star being announced a few weeks ago.

Unlike Amazon’s first 4-star store, which is located on street level in Manhattan, Amazon 4-star #2 is located on the second floor of the Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree (20 miles south of Denver), across from a Macy’s.

Like the SoHo store, it will feature a selection of curated goods – though with a local twist. The Amazon 4-star in Lone Tree will include a selection of sports and outdoor items, as well as Denver-area best-sellers.

Two More Amazon Go Locations Added to TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map

Two more upcoming Amazon Go locations have been added to the TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map.

Amazon announced the upcoming locations in San Francisco and Chicago:

  • A second San Francisco location will be opening at 98 Post Street this winter.
  • A fourth Chicago location will be opening in Illinois Center next year.

This brings the number of known Amazon Go locations to 10.

Amazon Reportedly Planning to Launch its First Amazon Go in New York City

A few days after reports surfaced about Amazon’s plans to open its first Amazon Go automated food/convenience store in San Francisco, we are seeing reports of details on Amazon’s plans to open its first Amazon Go in New York City as well.

Per Recode, Amazon is planning to open its first NYC Amazon Go in Brookfield Place, formerly known as the World Financial Center, in the Battery Park City neighborhood. It’s a large complex across from the World Trade Center.

This will be the eighth Amazon Go location in the US. We’ve updated our TJI Physical Retail Map to reflect the upcoming Amazon Go location in NYC.

Photos of Amazon Fashion’s “Pop Up Shop Live” in London This Week

Amazon Fashion is running its first pop-up in the UK this week called “Pop Up Shop Love.” While Amazon has over 600 physical retail venues primarily in North America, this is the first pop-up of this type Amazon has launched in the UK.

How does it look? Here are some photos taken by visitors today:

Amazon is featuring its own private label goods throughout the store, including both clothing as well as electronics.

Amazon is driving some buzz in the UK fashion press as well. Per Vogue UK,

From October 23 – 27, Londoners will be able to purchase a revolving edit of women’s and menswear pieces. Autumn/winter 2018 trends will be the priority for the first two days, followed by fitness gear on the third, and street and partywear on the final days. Events including a beauty trends panel discussion hosted by Vogue beauty and lifestyle director Jessica Diner, a yoga session with Deliciously Ella founder Ella Mills, and Pepe Jeans denim customisation will also be peppered throughout the schedule, along with DJ and acoustic music sets. In short, if you stop by there will be something fabulous going on.

Take a look at Amazon’s agenda for the week below:

And for reference, here’s how Amazon is promoting the event on its UK site:

Amazon Planning to Launch its First Amazon Go in San Francisco

Amazon is planning to launch its first Amazon Go in California on California Street in San Francisco’s Financial District.

This will be the seventh Amazon Go location in the US. The other six are in Seattle and Chicago. We’ve updated our TJI Physical Retail Map to reflect the new upcoming Amazon Go location in San Francisco.

The store’s opening date is not yet known and is unlikely to be announced much in advance, if the past is any indication. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the sign permit application for 300 California St.

Introducing the TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map

TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map – The Comprehensive Independent List of Amazon Physical Retail Locations
Now tracking 629 physical locations and venues.

Since 2015, when Amazon opened its first physical retail store (Amazon Books in Seattle’s University Village), Amazon has been growing its physical retail presence throughout North America. When Amazon acquired Whole Foods, it added hundreds of new locations. Now, Amazon operates over 600 physical retail venues, ranging from its Amazon Go automated food stores to its roving Amazon Treasure Trucks.

As Sears announces it is entering bankruptcy proceedings today,  Amazon continues to grow its physical retail footprint. But while Amazon has hundreds of physical retail locations, there’s no singular comprehensive reference for professionals and analysts to find all of Amazon’s physical retail locations in one place. That’s why we have created the TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map — the comprehensive independent list of Amazon physical retail locations.

Amazon Go (6)
Amazon 4-star (2)
Amazon Books (18)
Whole Foods Market (480)
Whole Foods 365 (10)
Allegro Coffee Roasters (7)
Amazon Treasure Truck (25)
Amazon Pop-Ups (67)
Amazon Smart Home Experience Pop-Ups (14)

From Amazon Go to Whole Foods 365 to Amazon Pop-Ups, and Everything in Between

The breadth of Amazon’s physical retail operations is increasing. The TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map tracks Amazon Go, Amazon 4-star, Amazon Books, Whole Foods, Whole Foods 365, Allegro Coffee Roasters, Amazon Treasure Truck, Amazon Pop-Ups, and Amazon Smart Home Experience Pop-Ups locations. As Amazon adds more, we’ll track them, too.

Dive In

Amazon continues to create new products and services regularly, and we expect the number is only going to grow.

TheTJI Amazon Physical Retail Map is a starting point for researchers and analysts to navigate Amazon’s physical retail portfolio.

For professionals serious about tracking Amazon’s products and services on an ongoing basis, subscribe to TJI Intel, which covers the latest developments across Amazon’s retail efforts.

The Strategy Behind Amazon’s Private Label Push: Customer Loyalty, Supplier Leverage, and Long Term Margins

Amazon created its first private label brands about a decade ago. But lately, something’s changed — Amazon is ramping up its private label brand portfolio in a massive way. What’s going on? Big picture, we think there are three vectors to Amazon’s private label efforts: customer loyalty, supplier leverage, and long term margins.

A Customer Loyalty Strategy

Consumer products companies have spent billions of dollars over decades to build brand loyalty. Why? Because building brands works: customers with a brand affinity stay loyal over time.

Along those lines, we believe Amazon has decided it is a strategic priority to build customer loyalty and preference through the development of private label and exclusive brand products. In a world with an ever-increasing number of “microbrands” and DNVBs, Amazon is betting that customers who find quality products on Amazon that they can’t get anywhere else will become more loyal to Amazon and spend more on Amazon over time because of their loyalty to those private brands.

From this perspective, Amazon is incentivized to build private brand products in as many categories as possible. This is generally good news for private label manufacturers who have built their businesses serving large retailers like Walmart and Target (and who are now increasingly shifting their efforts to serving Amazon) — though they are more easily replaceable than owners of established consumer brands.

In our view, there’s no reason why Amazon shouldn’t offer a private brand option (if not multiple private brand options) for most product categories it sells. Some will succeed, and others won’t. In addition to creating loyalty to private brands, the overall effect of increased selection and value should strengthen Amazon’s position as a first-stop destination in consumer shopping habits, driving traffic and sales for all Amazon vendors and sellers.

A Supplier Leverage Strategy

Amazon Prime has built significant loyalty and habit in consumer purchase behavior since it launched in 2005 — not through retail brand loyalty, but through the sunk cost psychology of pre-paid shipping. It’s one of the amazing business accomplishments of our time.

But Prime is not without its vulnerabilities. Chief amongst them: most of the brands that Amazon sells are owned by other companies. The probability that some companies that own the brands that Amazon’s customers have built loyalty to over time might at some point have sufficiently different incentives than Amazon is non-zero.

For example, one fundamental strategy conflict: brands might increasingly feel like Amazon is not offering the differentiation they want for their products on its marketplace.

Amazon aggregating everyone else’s value chain into their channel, while diluting external Brand value in general, is sort of scary… Just wonder when this starts to rub off on already established brands. Amazon wants a Brand-Free future where they hold the keys to the consumer’s purchase point, on their terms. (Jordan Rice, via Twitter)

The question of whether Amazon and other technology platforms have the potential to change the fundamental nature of brand psychology and create a “brandless” future is an interesting one. The increasingly sophisticated private label efforts from Amazon and others will affect some product categories more than others: categories that are more easily commoditized will see faster and greater disruption, while customers will always have enduring affinity for truly differentiated products.

Big picture, there appears to be a sense of urgency at Amazon to build out its private label portfolio as quickly and broadly as it can to accelerate the process of introducing its customers to its own brands so that, in the long run, if some brand owners decide their incentives aren’t sufficiently aligned with Amazon’s, Amazon will be able to fulfill (ideally large portions of) that demand with (ideally very comparable) private brand products to satisfy as many customers as possible. The better private brand alternatives Amazon can create, the more leverage it will have with suppliers.

A Long Term Margin Strategy

Jeff Bezos is reputed as saying, “Your margin is my opportunity.” Given Bezos’ and Amazon’s long term perspective, margins that look terrible to many other businesses can look attractive to Amazon. That steely view has led Amazon to make investments others haven’t.

Once Amazon establishes more of its own brands and builds loyalty to them over time, it should be able to extract attractive gross margins from the sale of those items, especially compared to the low margins it and most retailers usually earn when selling third party brands.

Could Amazon someday even create luxury brands? (And if so, could Amazon even only offer some brands through certain types of its own physical retail stores one day?) Maybe, but first it must prove that it can move beyond low-emotion private label brands like “AmazonBasics” that primarily compete on price and create a portfolio of brands that have sustaining appeal to different customer segments.

If it can, then private label could be a significant source of margin for Amazon over time — that Amazon can then use to invest in its next “low-margin” business.