Amazon to Shutter Physical Bookstores, Focus on Grocery Opportunities

Amazon, 4-Star, bookstore, closure

Amazon will be closing its physical bookstores, including “Amazon 4-Star” locations and mall pop-up locations, narrowing its brick-and-mortar locations to focus on groceries, Bloomberg wrote Wednesday (March 2).

The company said it wants to look more at its “Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Go and Amazon Style stores and our Just Walk Out technology.”

“We remain committed to building great, long-term physical retail experiences and technologies, and we’re working closely with our affected employees to help them find new roles within Amazon,” the company said in an emailed statement, per Bloomberg.

Amazon reportedly has 24 bookstores, 33 4-Star locations and nine mall pop-up kiosks. The company also planned to open up 16 additional 4-Star locations.

The company started going into physical retail in 2015, when it opened a bookstore in Seattle. The company pledged to use technology to “redefine the shopping experience,” though the first location was more akin to a smaller Barnes & Noble with no coffee.

The 4-Star locations were aiming to highlight products that had been popular on the webstore, with assortments resembling the random products sold by stores like Brookstone. As such, Amazon failed to stand out among the crowd.

However, the company seems to have decided that its bigger moves into physical retail — which started with the buying of Whole Foods Market in 2017 — was what it wanted to focus on. It’s also rolled out its own Amazon Fresh supermarkets in 24 locations since then.

Whole Foods is the biggest chunk of the $4.69 billion revenue the company made in the quarter ending Dec. 31, coming out to 3% of sales.

PYMNTS wrote that Whole Foods is angling to get more into the creation of the brands on its shelves, with a new accelerator to monitor emerging producers.

See also: Whole Foods Launches Accelerator as Grocers Compete for Shoppers

Whole Foods Market Vice President of Local Merchandising Will Betts said the company had been looking for local and emerging producers that have “products that our customers will love.”