Amazon helped pave the way for online shopping, but now it's considering taking things back to brick and mortar.
According to Bloomberg, the online retailer is thinking about tackling old-fashioned retail by acquiring some of RadioShack's locations after the electronics chain files for bankruptcy. The report, which cited two unnamed people with knowledge of the matter, comes one day after Bloomberg also claimed Sprint might buy half of RadioShack's shops.
Amazon could stock RadioShack's stores with its own hardware (Fire phone, Fire TV, etc). It could also turn them into pickup and drop-off centers for online customers, much like storage lockers. Amazon is known for placing big bets and piping money back into operations, but it's also known for making profits one quarter and reporting losses another.
The retailer doesn't seem to care about that though, as it has continually invested in its own hardware and services. It even just opened its first staffed pick-up and drop-off location at Perdue University in the US. Called Amazon@Perdue, the location allows students at the university to pick up packages and return items rather than deal with shipping.
Many assumed the Perdue shop was likely part of a larger play by Amazon to move into the physical space of shops. Apple and Samsung have already opened shops all over the world in order to get their products out to customers in more ways than simply shipping. According to analysts, Amazon won't survive unless it moves into physical retail too.
If Amazon were to buy RadioShack's brick and mortar chain, it could start setting up pick-up and drop-off points practically everywhere in the US. But Amazon faces some competition before it can just gobble up RadioShack. Amazon is joining other potential bidders, which not only include Sprint but also the investment group behind Brookstone.
RadioShack first announced last autumn that it was looking at bankruptcy if talks about a sale or a restructuring didn't pan out, and then, just last week, the New York Stock Exchange issued RadioShack a warning that it could delist the retailer due to its average market capitalization staying below $50 million for more than 30 consecutive days.
RadioShack has been able to survive in recent months largely thanks to a rescue financing package it received from Standard General, which is a hedge fund and the biggest shareholder of the retailer, in October