Amazon Opens First Retail Store on College Campus


Amazon is celebrating the grand opening of its first staffed location on a US college campus, the first of three to make online university stores that will sell textbooks and other university wares.

Purdue University is home to Amazon’s first official drop-off and pickup location that is fully staffed by employees hired by Amazon.  Students at the university can use the portal to find books assigned to their classes and buy other items sold by Amazon to be shipped directly to the store.  The student will receive an email or text when their package is available for pickup, either through self-serve lockers or through an actual Amazon employee.  Students who participate in the Amazon Prime Program will receive their shipments in one business day — even faster than Amazon’s regular two-day shipping guarantee for its other Prime members.

Amazon plans to open a second location on the Purdue campus this spring and hopes to offer free one-day shipping to all students at the school at that time.

University of Massachusetts, Amherst believes its students will save an average of $380 per student on textbooks because of Amazon’s lower costs.

“This is something that students have already started to do,” says Ed Blaguszewski, a spokesman for the Amherst campus. “Online sales of books have been increasing.”

An online distribution center will be established at each of the three locations that will deliver textbooks to students within one day.  Other goods will also be available for one-day delivery for those students who participate in the Amazon Prime program, a customer loyalty program, which is available at a discounted rate of $49 per year for students.  Students also have access to streaming videos online with the program, writes Nova Safo for Marketplace.

Retailers that could face competition from the Amazon deal include Barnes and Noble and Follett.

“Definitely, this continues to put pressure on Barnes and Noble,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst. “This is yet again another example of how Amazon is gaining share.”

According to the College Store Association, there are 4,500 college and university bookstores across the country, the majority of which are owned by the schools, with hundreds of others operated by retailers such as Barnes & Noble and Follett.  These locations will most likely be targeted by Amazon as their contracts begin to expire.

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