Amazon.com's (AMZN) assault on the retail industry continues.
This time, the internet giant has opened up a physical store in New York City that highlights some of the most popular and highly-rated items it sells on its website, allowing customers to touch them and try them out before buying them. The store doesn't accept cash, with payment either being done via a customer's Amazon account and a QR code, or with a credit card if a customer doesn't have an Amazon account (signing up for a Prime account in-store is easy, naturally).
As large a player in internet commerce as Amazon has become, the majority of retail transactions still take place in physical locations. The new store, called Amazon 4-Star since most of the items for sale carry at least a 4-star customer rating on Amazon.com, is intended to try to capture more of those transactions, as well as to create a physical world connection for its online customers.
"It's discovery, come to life," Mariana Garavaglia, Amazon's Director of Stores, told TheStreet at the new store on Thursday morning. Among the prominent areas of the store are sections devoted to books, items that are popular among New York City customers and products that show up most frequently in customer wishlists.
4-Star is particularly intended to allow customers to try out Amazon's hardware devices such as the myriad Alexa-powered Echo smart speakers, as well as the Ring smart home devices.
"For customers that may be new to the smart home, [these devices] can be pretty intimidating," noted Garavaglia. "In the store, they can interact with them and it sort of demystifies them."
Amazon would not comment on whether it plans to open up similar stores in other locations in New York City or other cities.
Amazon.com shares rose 1.9% to $2,012.16 on Thursday and are up about 72% year to date.