At the heart of Amazon’s founding was the premise that e-commerce offers certain advantages physical stores just can’t match. Online shops are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection; they’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and they’ve got unlimited shelf space. In his 2018 letter to shareholders, founder Jeff Bezos said if Amazon were a physical store, it would stretch across six football fields.
But Bezos also made two other points in the letter: First, stores are still where most shopping happens. Today in the US, only about 11% of sales are online, and while they’re quickly growing, that still leaves 89% of sales offline. Second, as Amazon gets larger, everything needs to scale with it, including the size of its experiments if it intends to keep generating new ideas. Stores are a project that can work for both. To keep up the fight in retail and find new ways to innovate, Amazon has decided to get physical.