REAL ESTATE

Up Close: Shoppers review Amazon Books

BY Marianne Wilson
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Modern. Innovative. Interactive. Organized.

Those were among the words used most often by mystery shoppers to describe Amazon’s first ever retail storefront, Amazon Books. The report comes amid ongoing rumors that the Internet giant is planning to roll out additional stores.

The shoppers are part of Field Agent, which provides on-location auditing and research via a network of 650,000 “agents” who collect data that can be monitored in real time by its clients. The company deployed five men and five women to shop Amazon Books, which is located in University Village, Seattle. They were required to make a book purchase of at least $10.

Opened in November, Amazon Books differs from the traditional book store in several ways. All books, for instance, are placed face-out on shelves. And each book is located above a label that contains details from Amazon’s online reviews, including a star rating, customer comments and a scannable bar-code to users to the book’s Amazon page.

The Field Agent shoppers reviewed various components of the 7,500-sq.-ft. store, using a five-star scale. Here is how the scores averaged out:

• Selection/variety of books: 4.25 stars;
• Prices: 4.3;
• Ambiance/atmosphere: 4.75; and
• Overall: 4.5.

The Field Agent shoppers also were asked to critique the store. A common complaint: The space was too congested, with very narrow aisles that made it hard to navigate. Shoppers also complained that Amazon Books does not accept cash.

Information/reviews, price, and organization/layout of books ranked equally as the top three items when the shoppers were asked their opinion of what Amazon Books does better than competing book store chains.

To download Field Agent’s full (and free) report on Amazon Books, click here. The report contains additional photos and shopper reviews and commentary.

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