LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
Store that will sell popular items from Amazon coming to Lawrence
Kids don’t watch TV anymore, and the reason is obvious: You can’t fit a 52-inch flatscreen in your pocket. Given that, there may be a whole generation confused about those “As Seen on TV” stores in the mall. What the younger generation may understand, though, is a “As Seen on Amazon” store. Lawrence is getting such a store.
The store won’t be named “As Seen on Amazon,” but that is the concept behind the soon-to-open UniDoor store, which will be located in The Malls Shopping Center near 23rd and Louisiana. Operators of the store will monitor what are popular sellers on Amazon and then stock those items in their store.
I’m not sure I completely understand how the retailer operates, but it appears that the key to the business is the ownership group has deep connections with a a host of companies in mainland China. Here’s a news flash for you, a lot of stuff sold on Amazon comes from China.
Rice Cheng is one of the chief buyers for the company, and was at the store when I stopped by earlier this week.
“We have strong connections with thousands of sellers on Amazon,” Cheng said.
UniDoor often creates consignment arrangements with the sellers, meaning UniDoor doesn’t have to buy all the inventory, which means it can stock a wide range of items. And talk about wide ranging. I could buy a hover board, decorate it with LED light strands, get a pair of new shoes, and buy a makeup kit to cover the inevitable scars from the hover board crash without ever leaving one corner of the store.
In other words, the store has an eclectic mix of items. There are a number of electronics, including Bluedio earphones, high-tech digital watches, computer cables and accessories, and other such items. But the store on this particular day also had some clothing, shoes, purses, toys, hover boards, LED lighting, makeup kits and a bunch of other items.
What items the store will have in the future is tough to know. Cheng said the inventory will change significantly with the season and with what is popular on Amazon.
As for how the store ended up in Lawrence, I’m not entirely sure. Cheng said Lawrence was deemed to be a good community and that the store hopefully will appeal to the large college-age population.
If you are like me and have read how Amazon is eating the lunch of brick-and-mortar retailers, you may be wondering why Amazon sellers are interested in having their products in a brick-and-mortar store. Cheng said there are a surprising number of companies that don’t want to put all their eggs in the Amazon basket. Selling on Amazon isn’t necessarily cheap, with some of the fees, commissions and other items that retailers must pay. Plus, some companies remain convinced that some consumers want to touch and see an item for themselves before they buy it.
Plus, it is worth noting that Amazon is building brick-and-mortar stores. They aren’t anything like UniDoor, and I don’t think we’ll see an Amazon store in The Malls shopping center anytime soon, even though there is space available. But the idea that brick and mortar retail is dying may not be quite right. Rather, it may be that the industry — courtesy of giants like Amazon — may be preparing to completely change it through technology. This relatively recent article by The New York Times quotes several sources about what Amazon is working on. Think of stores with so much technology that cashiers aren’t even needed. That would change the viability of brick and mortar retail in a big way, plus create a lot of new questions for the employment market.
The company is exploring the idea of creating stores to sell furniture and home appliances, like refrigerators - the kinds of products that shoppers are reluctant to buy over the internet sight unseen, said one of several people with knowledge of the discussions who, in conversations with The New York Times, spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans were confidential.
But look what has happened: The idea of a store run by robots has gotten me off topic. (It won’t work, by the way. The robots and the cash registers will spend all their time flirting, and the lines will get way too long.) As for UniDoor, look for the store to open in the next week or two, Cheng said. Much of the store was stocked while I was there, but some interior sprucing up was still underway. The store is in the far southwest corner of the shopping center, where Hume Music used to be years ago.