Retail giant Amazon is exploring a new sales channel – self-service vending machines
Amazon is reportedly trialling automatic “Kindle Kiosk” vending machines at various locations in the United States, offering a selection of Kindle Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers and accessories.
One of the vending machines was spotted by attendees of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to technology news site GeekWirethat the kiosks have been rolling out since November, and are installed at a variety of locations, including events spaces, shopping centres and airports.
“We’re very happy with the customer response so far, and are excited to give customers another easy way to purchase accessories and also Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets,” the spokesperson said.
The experiment signals the company’s desire to expand beyond online sales and third-party retail stores, and start selling its products directly to customers in physical locations.
Apple already runs a chain of branded retail stores worldwide, and Microsoft also started opening its own branded shops in the US in 2009. Amazon opened pop-up shops in a handful of US shopping malls in November, but later revealed that they were part fo a marketing campaign.
Selling devices through vending machines could help Amazon stand out from its rivals, but it is unclear whether people will feel comfortable purchasing something as expensive as a £199 tablet from a vending machine.
US retailer electronics Best Buy already provides a range of tech and accessories – including phones, tablets, headphones, iPods and cameras – via over 200 self-service vending machine kiosks across the country.