From its perch in the northwest corner of the U.S., Amazon has been steadily spreading its physical presence across the country.
In the past three months, the e-commerce giant has doubled down on its distribution efforts, acquiring grocery store chain Whole Foods and announcing its intention to open a second headquarters outside its 40,000-employee complex in Seattle. As Amazon continues its massive expansion, auto dealerships could be the next steppingstone in Amazon's path to dominance.
Amazon already has a presence in the automotive industry. The e-retailer sells aftermarket parts online and launched Amazon Vehicles, a car buying research site, in August 2016. It sells Seat vehicles in France and Fiat cars in Italy through partnerships with the automakers. It's also working with automakers to offer its Alexa voice assistant for in-car services.
But these are just a slice of Amazon's overall business. The thing Amazon does better than anyone else is to get things to people, fast.
And a dealership network, with buildings scattered around a region, could be a key part of that strategy. "The idea is provocative, and it could make sense," said Cooper Smith, head of Amazon research at L2, a research firm that tracks the digital presence of consumer brands. "They're blurring the lines between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar storefronts."
An Amazon spokeswoman said the e-retailer does not sell vehicles on its U.S. website, though the Amazon Vehicles page has become a research destination for car buyers. She made no additional comment on whether the company was considering dealerships as a distribution network.