Amazon Books starts new chapter with Chicago store opening in Lakeview – Chicago Tribune

Amazon launched its online bookstore nearly 22 years ago. On Tuesday, it will open the doors of a brick-and-mortar store in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, giving customers a chance to test the e-commerce giant’s take on offline shopping.

It’s just one 6,000-square-foot neighborhood bookstore. But it’s also one of Amazon’s first experiments with live customer service and cash registers, and a sign that one of the retail industry’s biggest disrupters may not be content to stick to e-commerce.

As fast as online shopping has grown, in recent years — thanks in no small part to Amazon — e-commerce accounted for only about 8.1 percent of all U.S. retail sales last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Merchants that got their start online have increasingly supplemented their digital stores with physical storefronts.

“They can win as much of the online space as they want and still be eyeing a piece of (the in-store) pie,” said Brendan Witcher, e-commerce analyst with Forrester Research.

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