January 5, 2017
By Katie Patierno
Throughout the United States Amazon is opening "pop-up" stores as a way for people to learn, interact and purchase their products. We have all seen the ads for devices such as Amazon Fire TV, Kindles, Echo products, Fire tablets, Amazon phones and accessories, but being able to demo them was an exciting notion.
A couple of weeks ago, during the holiday shopping rush, I went to the Amazon pop up store at Queens Center in Elmhurst Queens. Getting to the location I hit traffic, but that is to be expected in Queens. Upon arriving to the mall I eventually found the parking garage and made my way into the mall. After perusing the mall for a bit I spotted a directory which listed the Amazon pop up store location.
After a bit more searching, I finally found it!
And there it was -- pretty underwhelming. I had actually walked past it once without even noticing it.
The store was set up with modern style was and well laid out. When entering the store I was not greeted nor did any of the sales associates offer to educate me on the products. Nevertheless, I decided to walk around and take a look at the products Amazon has to offer.
Echo and Home Products
I first checked out their virtual home assistance products including the various Echo devices, the Ecobee3 smart thermostat, and other devices that can be used with Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated intelligent personal assistant. These products looked sleek and modern like the pictures, but unfortunately most of the products you couldn’t actully interact or demo with.
I noticed a full demo of Alexa was hidden in the corner behind the cashier stand. My guess is that they don’t want a bunch of people playing with it unsupervised.
Tablets and Phones
The store had two phones on display, so I tested one out to see what makes it different than my iPhone. Unfortunately, there were pass codes on both phones, so I was not able to learn all that much about the product. I had the opportunity to demo the tablets for a little while, but in my opinion they were nothing spectacular. Still without any interactions with the sales associates, I moved onto Kindles next.
Kindles and e-Readers
This area was lit the brightest out of all the products.
The store was demoing their Paper White screens, which I have never seen before. They also had the new Kindle Oasis on display which was a different take on the popular eReaders. The Oasis had a nice cover and gives the feeling of opening a book, so users can still get that physical connection with what they are reading. Not hearing about the Oasis before, it was a great experience to see it for the first time in person.
Amazon Fire TV
The Fire TV was my favorite product overall, especially the Amazon Stick which included an Alexa Voice remote. Also on display was the Amazon Gaming TV, which included a game controller. The gaming system was fascinating and I didn’t know Amazon had a gaming system.
My Overall Experience
It's clear that Amazon really wants to make these stores feel warm and welcoming with its modern look and feel, matching the same style and layouts of the Apple and Microsoft Stores. While many kiosks from other brands have sales associates that constantly try and sell you products, it seemed apparent that Amazon wanted to stay away from that mentality. That being said, Amazon may have gone too far in that direction. After this whole experience I feel as if I did not learn that much more about these products. However, I'm excited to see how Amazon grows their physical presence in the near future.