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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.

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Diana February 3, 2015 um 4:01 pm

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

Nate Hoffelder February 3, 2015 um 4:11 pm

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

David Gaughran February 9, 2015 um 7:05 am

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

Nate Hoffelder February 9, 2015 um 7:51 am

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.

fjtorres February 3, 2015 um 4:50 pm

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

AvidReader February 3, 2015 um 6:23 pm

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.

kariss February 4, 2015 um 4:33 am

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.

Nate Hoffelder February 4, 2015 um 7:10 am

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.

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