Is Amazon 4-Star a winner?
“My first thought on wandering around the store was that it is a kind of walk-in website, my second that this is a fatuous expression worthy only of a PR release,” FT’s tech columnist Jonathan Margolis wrote of his visit to the first location in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.
He goes on to describe how shelves ”filled with a quirky selection of goods chosen, supposedly, by real customers, made for a seductive shopping experience,” and that he spent “more than $100 on essentials I was unaware I needed, including products I didn’t even know existed.”
He concludes, “I am sure 4-Star is a winner, even for those of us aware of the downsides of Amazon.”
Amazon has slowly expanded the number of 4-Star locations since its launch, currently having 32 in the U.S. and now its first international location in central London.
The 4-Star formula hasn’t changed much since launch:
- At around 4,000 square feet, 4-Star offers a range of consumer electronics, toys, games, books, kitchen and home items rated four stars or higher by Amazon.com customers, or are top sellers or new and trending on Amazon.com. Amazon-owned devices and smart home accessories are prominently featured.
- Described as “an extension of Amazon.com,” the stores make use of familiar online groupings such as “Most Wished For,” “Most Gifted,” and “Top Rated” as well as “If You Like, Then You’ll Love” pairings. Local items trending online are highlighted.
- Prime members receive the same discounted pricing as online.
A recent review by Modern Retail noted that 4-Star stands out among Amazon’s various store concepts, which also includes Amazon Books, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pop Up, by working as a tourist attraction with its foremost focus on discovery.
Elaine Kwon, managing partner at e-commerce management firm Kwontified, believes 4-Star may have to pivot in a few years. She told Modern Retail, “I feel like maybe the 4-Star store has the least likelihood of lasting because it serves as a novelty store.”
- Amazon’s 4-Star stores could be the future of bricks-and-mortar retail – Financial Times
- Introducing Amazon 4-star – Amazon.com
- Amazon 4-Star – Amazon.com
- Amazon 4-star opens in the UK, marking its first international expansion – Amazon.com
- Amazon Physical Store Locations – Amazon.com
- A little bit of an anomaly’: How 4-Star stores fit into Amazon’s physical retail strategy – Modern Retail
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Amazon 4-Star a proven concept or do you see it being overhauled or phased out in coming years? Do you see opportunities for other broadline retailers to offer similar competitive formats?