On Thursday, Amazon is launching a new brick-and-mortar store concept called Amazon 4-Star in SoHo, on Spring Street between Crosby and Lafayette in Manhattan. The conceit of the store is that it will only sell products with an Amazon customer rating of 4 stars or higher.
Amazon has been slowly rolling out bookstores across the country, where you can see a book’s customer rating. This store, however, will focus on other popular product categories in the Amazon universe, including customer electronics, kitchen, home, and toys. Besides products with 4-star reviews, the stores will also sell top-selling products and products that are new and trending. Underneath each product, there will be a digital price tag that shows the product’s rating. The price in the store will correspond to the price of that product on Amazon.com.
While there’s a certain art of curating products in store, Amazon is taking a highly data-driven approach to the Amazon 4-star store. Rather than relying on influencers or tastemakers to introduce new products to customers, the products in this store will be selected entirely based on what customers say they have liked. In a blog post, Amazon says the average rating of all the merchandise in this new store is 4.4 stars, and collectively, the products will have earned more than 1.8 million 5-star reviews.
As someone who closely studies the retail climate, it appears to me that what customers are now looking for are brands with a clear point of view that offer an immersive, entertaining experience in-store. Luggage brand Away, for instance, curates unexpected products from different countries in its stores, and uses a distinct color palette that allows customers to step into the brand’s universe. Clothing brand Everlane uses its space to host regular talks and events. These are all experiences that customers cannot get online.
The Amazon 4-Star store is an interesting experiment, but if a customer can search for highly rated products online, it raises the question: Why would they ever get off the couch and go into a store? It really all comes down to how Amazon executes on this concept. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see the customer response.