Mobile Payments Leader Amazon Has Expansion Plans in Mind for Old Sears Stores

January 15, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Amazon has been a big name in mobile payments for some time now, between its own mobile payments platform and the fact that that’s where a lot of people’s mobile payments actually go. That “last mile” phenomenon, though, has long been a problem for the company. Now, Amazon has a plan to wildly expand its physical presence by picking up some closed Sears and Kmart stores, converting them to Whole Foods outlets.

Right now, Whole Foods has a grand total of 470 locations. That’s next to nothing against the Walmart, Target, and Kroger presence out there. However, with Amazon’s massive capital to back it, it can make some noteworthy expansions. For instance, a Whole Foods recently opened up in Montana, and reports suggest that Whole Foods management was spotted in Utah looking at a site that was formerly a K-Mart.

Given that Sears has closed up 123 stores in the last three years, and nearly twice that in Kmart locations—205, at last report—have done likewise, opportunity is clearly knocking for Amazon. Throw in the fact that Sears was almost about to shut down altogether before a bankruptcy bid got reconsidered recently, and that made things all the more potentially noteworthy.

Mall owners the country over were likely in a panic at the thought of Sears shuttering; this venerable brand has been one of the leading “anchor stores” in mall spaces for decades, and if that brand went under, so too would more than a few malls outright. But if Amazon steps in with Whole Foods, and also maybe adds a pickup counter for Amazon purchases, the whole concept suddenly changes, and malls become destinations once again. It’s the perfect opportunity for malls to capitalize on the changes, adding in a range of experiences to get people to stick around. They’re already there picking up Amazon stuff or Whole Foods groceries, why not stay for whatever the mall itself has?

It’s a great idea, and one that could really turn around the fates of a lot of declining shopping malls out there. If we did lose Sears, we may well gain a whole lot more in the process.