Can Amazon Break Into Brick-and-Mortar Retail Via Kindle Devices?

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Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is a lot of things, but it’s not a brick-and-mortar retailer, and that’s one thing the company might be slowly trying to change. According to the Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce giant is gearing up to offer small brick-and-mortar retailers the option of using a checkout system that uses Kindle tablets. Sources told the publication that Amazon’s program could be launched as early as this summer; the Seattle-based company has apparently already bought the necessary technology and enlisted the necessary engineers to help ensure that if its program goes through, it will have a timely rollout.

It is still unclear how Amazon intends to market its Kindle tablets to retailers, but people briefed on the company’s plans told the Journal that it may give merchants Kindle devices and credit card readers. These services could also expand to website development and data analysis. Last year, Amazon acquired a San Francisco startup called GoPago Inc., which offers checkout systems linked to a smartphone app, and now there is speculation that the acquisition is about to bear fruit in the brick-and-mortar sphere in the near future.

Wall Street Journal sources maintain that Amazon’s plans could be delayed or even cancelled, but the company’s evident interest in breaking into the realm of physical retail stores is significant: Although Amazon has long run the online retail sphere, its competitors have at least had a physical edge on the company. That is helpful for brick-and-mortar stores in terms of taming the Amazon giant, because 90 percent of commerce is still conducted in physical retail locations. But if Amazon’s plans go through, competitors could no longer have that advantage.

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