News Feature | January 21, 2014

Amazon Tests A Physical Channel With Kindle Kiosks

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies
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By Anna Rose Welch, Director, Cell & Gene Collaborative
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Rollout of e-reader, tablet, and accessory vending machines began in November

Online retail behemoth Amazon has begun invading the physical retail world with standalone, automated “Kindle Kiosks.” The company chose a soft launch of these experimental kiosks for its e-reader, tablets, and accessories which began in November. GeekWire writers Todd Bishop and Taylor Soper report running into one in the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, where the kiosk had been installed right before the International Consumer Electronics show. A spokesperson for the company told GeekWire that these kiosks will be available in malls and airports, as well as at various events, to give customers an additional way to purchase Kindle e-readers and tablets.

These kiosks offer customers the option of purchasing the Kindle Fire HD and HDX, Kindle Paperwhite, and the standard e-reader, along with branded covers and power adapters. GeekWire reports its experiences with the kiosk weren’t entirely smooth. In addition to some sluggishness, there isn’t a way the customer can link the purchase to an existing Amazon account. GeekWire couldn’t offer any information on whether people will be willing and trusting enough of kiosks to spend as much as $379 for a tablet. But considering the standard Kindle is only $69, there could be a wider audience willing to make an impulse buy at airports as they prepare for a long day of traveling.

Regardless, this experiment could create some added competition for Best Buy, which already uses roughly 200 self-service vending kiosks to provide various accessories, like phones, tablets, headphones, iPods, and cameras.

This is not the first time Amazon has broken into the brick-and-mortar retail realm. The Wall Street Journal reported at the end of November that the e-retailer set up a pop-up store in a San Francisco Mall devoted to showcasing Kindle devices and accessories. Considering the company’s sales occur online, it’s difficult to let customers interact with Kindle before purchasing it. So, pop-up stores like these helped the company put devices into prospective customers’ hands. , and set up kiosks that offered device accessories for sale. While WSJ reported Amazon sold Kindles from these shops, a follow-up article by The Digital Reader says Amazon saw the pop-up store as a marketing effort in its “Read-It-To-Believe-It” campaign, rather than an actual store.