Amazon’s New Purdue Location Could be a Template for its Future Retail Efforts

amazon-logo3The rumors that Amazon is interested in RadioShack store leases has lead some to wonder what Amazon would do with the spaces, and today Amazon spontaneously answered that question.

The retailer officially launched its new something at Purdue University today. Purdue is one of the three US universities that has an affiliate deal with Amazon, and like UMass-Amherst Purdue has a contract for Amazon to supply textbooks. But one way that Purdue differs from other schools is that it now has an Amazon “unstore” (my word) open on campus. (Amherst has a textbook annex where Amazon will probably install an unstore, but that hasn’t happened yet.)

According to the press release, the square footage of the location is about 2300 sq ft, and it isstaffed by Amazon personnel. It’s located in the Krach Leadership Center at Purdue University, and is described as a “customer order pickup and drop-off location”. Amazon also shared this render of what it looks like:


As you can see, this isn’t actually a store. There are lockers, a customer service desk, and a drop off location, but no actual product on display.

In fact, I wouldn’t even call this a retail location, which is why I coined the term “unstore”. Amazon’s pop-up stores came closer to being retail stores than this new unstore, but in spite of the incongruity of that comparison I think this image says a lot.

If Amazon does secure those RadioShack leases, this is about what I would expect the stores to look like after they are remodeled. This image probably also offers a few clues about the customer service location which Amazon is said to be planning for the office building it recently leased in Manhattan. That will likely have a very different interior, but both locations will share certain elements.

What’s more, we might even see this idea replicated on other college campuses. As I pointed out last August, Amazon is encircling US universities with delivery lockers located in off-campus convenience stores. If the Purdue location works out, Amazon could decide to rent space on other campuses.

Of course, all this speculation could be a case of putting the cart before the horse. We don’t know yet whether the idea will work, much less whether Amazon wants to expand.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Diana3 February, 2015

    Doesn’t Amazon have pick-up lockers kind of like this in Europe already?

    1. Nate Hoffelder3 February, 2015

      In the UK, yes. I don’t know about other countries.

      1. David Gaughran9 February, 2015

        They might be more popular in the US than the UK – the UK already had one-day delivery.

        1. Nate Hoffelder9 February, 2015

          I was thinking they would be popular less for delivery than for CS and returns.

          But on college campuses, delivery would also be a plus because it’s not exactly a secure environment.

    2. fjtorres3 February, 2015

      In the US they have had them in convenience stores like 7-11 and (for a while) at Staples.

  2. AvidReader3 February, 2015

    I didn’t think much of the idea at first but with their sortation centers, this could save costs in transportation costs as well. Accepting returns would save on postage costs as well.

  3. kariss4 February, 2015

    So it’s sort of like Argos accept the products are in a warehouse far away rather then in the back I guess. To be honest this is what I had assumed when I saw they were buying the Radio Shack locations, it wouldn’t make sense otherwise as there product line is just too broad.

    1. Nate Hoffelder4 February, 2015

      Yep. And it’s more or less what I guessed the day before the rumor broke, but it’s also nothing like what people were saying last year.

  4. Amazon Eyes RadioShack Real Estate | Digital Book World4 February, 2015

    […] their orders at an Amazon-run counter. That may not count as an actual “store,” but the model could give some hints as to what it might do with the RadioShack locations it’s said to be […]

  5. […] To be clear, that survey came from the UK, but if consumers in the US show similar interest then Amazon could expect a friendly reception should they expand their retail efforts beyond the handful of unstores operating on college campuses. […]

  6. […] To be clear, that survey came from the UK, but if consumers in the US show similar interest then Amazon could expect a friendly reception should they expand their retail efforts beyond the handful of unstores operating on college campuses. […]

  7. […] the past four months Amazon has been running a virtual bookstore, or unstore as I call it, on the campus of Purdue University. That unstore is more of a staffed […]

  8. […] Purdue University deal involved Amazon acting as a surrogate college bookstore by installing a staffed unstore on campus, while Amazon's deal with UC Davis is closer to being an […]

  9. […] currently operates five pickup locations. Three of the unstores are located on the campuses of Purdue University, UM Amherst, and UC Berkeley, and two are located just off the campuses of UC Santa Barbara and […]

  10. […] announced in the past 18 months, and the rate is increasing. Amazon has opened five unstores since last February (Purdue) and they plan to open four more by the end of this […]

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