Amazon is planning to launch dozens of pop-up stores in shopping malls across the US over the coming year according to a source familiar with the matter as reported by Business Insider.

The mini stores, which are a separate venture from the physical bookstores Amazon opened in Seattle in 2015, will be between 300 to 500 square feet in size and positioned in the middle of shopping malls. They'll showcase and sell an assortment of Amazon-branded consumer electronics such as Fire tablets, Kindle e-book readers and its popular Echo home speaker / virtual assistant.

While it may seem like a hardware play, the publication correctly highlights the fact that Amazon's branded devices serve as yet another marketing play to drive customers to its online store to ultimately spend more money.

Amazon as of last month had 16 pop-up stores in operation across the US. By the end of this year, that number will exceed 30, the source said, and could climb to as many as 100 by the end of 2017.

Amazon's website shows 22 pop-up stores currently in operation spread across Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

What's unusual about the pop-up stores is Amazon's low-key approach. Instead of announcing new store openings, they're just kind of showing up in malls. Perhaps Amazon is interested in seeing how they do organically versus pouring a lot of marketing dollars into a venture that's already no doubt expensive (leasing space in a mall, hiring full-time staff, etc.).

Images courtesy Eugene Kim, Business Insider