Amazon has been linked with buying a number of RadioShack stores following the news that the business is limping towards filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. This news follows hot on the heels that Sprint is looking to acquire a number of RadioShack stores. Bloomberg have carried a report that Amazon is considering using RadioShack stores for a number of purposes, including a demonstration store of their growing portfolio of Kindle, Fire and Echo hardware, plus collection and drop off points for items purchased online. Of these, opening up stores to make it much easier for customers to experiencce Amazon’s growing portfolio of hardware is certainly interesting news.
And of course, if Amazon acquires a bricks and mortar presence, it will open up a new avenue of competition between Amazon and Apple. To date, Amazon has only occasionally opened a pop-up stores in shopping centres or malls to showcase specific hardware (such as the new Fire HD tablets). It’s long been rumored that Amazon has been considering the idea of physical stores, including how it might have been considering opening a store in the New York Midtown area for the Holiday Season 2014, but this store never appeared. Apple have hundreds of retail stores across the world, where customers can explore the products and receive technical help with their products. Apple still has significant online sales and customers often visit an Apple store many times before buying, which is perhaps what Amazon are looking for. After all, buying the Amazon Kindle tablet without seeing one requires more than a little faith. And customers who were able to see the Amazon Fire ‘phone didn’t snap the device up, either.
Still, Amazon considers the Fire ‘phone to be a first generation product and its deals with carriers are for multiple years, presumably designed to ease the Fire branding into consumer mindsets. Having a street presence will certainly help it in this respect. And at the back of my mind, if Amazon takes advantage of the RadioShack situation it would be strangely ironic. After all, it’s Amazon’s massive online business and discounting that appears to have pushed 92-year old RadioShack closer into administration.