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