Amazon announced on Wednesday that it will shortly be opening its eighth retail location on or near a US college campus. The new unstore will be located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin, in Gregory Gymnasium, and it is scheduled to open in summer 2016.
The 2,500 square foot space will give students and staff "a convenient location to pick up and return Amazon orders, including virtually everything one needs, from everyday essentials to technology".
It appears be launched as a compliment to, rather than a replacement for, UT Austin's bookstore, the University Co-op, The co-op is larger than your average college bookstore, and operates in seven locations in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston.
Since 2015, Amazon has opened staffed pickup locations, or unstores, at five US colleges and plans to open an additional two locations in the near future. Three of the unstores are located on the campuses of Purdue University, UC Berkeley, and UM Amherts, and two are located just off the campuses of UC Santa Barbara and the University of Cincinnati.
In addition to location at the University of Texas at Austin, Amazon has also announced contracts to open two more locations in 2016, at the University of Pennsylvania and UC Davis. (And of course there's Amazon Books in Seattle, and the upcoming store in San Diego.)
That makes for eight planned or operating pickup locations in less than two years, none of which are targeted at regular consumers. Instead, Amazon is pursuing what could be called the Facebook approach: target college campuses first, and only later expand to serve the general population.
This explains why Amazon didn't pick up the RadioShack leases, like the rumor said last year. Also, the next time we hear a rumor of Amazon opening hundreds of stores, it will be worth remembering exactly where Amazon's attention is focused right now. They're looking at colleges first, and pickup locations first, rather than traditional retail.
Something tells me that the panic over Amazon directly competing with bookstores is overblown, wouldn't you agree?