Amazon Books Westfield Century City

Amazon Books today opened its first physical store in the Los Angeles area.

The door at Westfield Century City is to be followed by one more store this year set to open in Walnut Creek, Calif., and two more confirmed for next year in Georgetown and Austin, Texas.

The selling floor of Century City is roughly 4,700 square feet and includes a section for devices and technology, expanded children’s section and a selection of books curated based on top-selling items, ratings and pre-order information culled from Amazon.com.

“As we do with all of our stores, we look for locations where there are readers around. This is a mall surrounded by a lot of great readers,” said Amazon Books vice president Jennifer Cast, who also pointed to Westfield Century City’s $1 billion makeover and expansion as another reason for opening at the center.

It’s largely still early days for the online retailer’s dip into brick-and-mortar.

“What we are learning [from the physical stores] is in the way we think about presenting books to customers,” Cast said. “We want people to shop the way they want to shop.”

The company’s continuing to refine and analyze just how customers are finding the books and what information, whether they be reviews or other crowdsourced finds, could be added to help a customer.

On the device side of the equation, the company’s found in the two years since launching Amazon Books the physical stores have been a means for customers to test and play with new product. The retailer’s also experimenting in select locations, such as Century City, its Amazon Smart Home Services program that shows people how to connect to Alexa or other smart home devices.

Amazon also continues to learn from its real estate strategy with traditional mall and urban street settings appearing to fare well for the company, according to Cast.

“This is only our 12th store, so we’re very much still in learning mode,” she said, pointing to successes in places such as Chicago where the store format includes a coffee shop, or the New York door that attracts more tourist traffic during the week. “I think if you step back and think, ‘Where can a bookstore thrive?’ A bookstore thrives when it’s where people want to read.”

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