Global eCommerce giant Amazon launches first physical retail store in the UK

Amazon Go

Amazon Go

This week, Amazon is launching its first ‘brick and mortar’ shop in the UK – with more rumoured to appear across the country over the next few years.

The inaugural store – in Ealing, West London – may be a physical store but there is no need for any actual physical contact – as the new Amazon Go stores are contactless and cashierless.

Amazon have already seen success in their physical stores in the USA, and hope to replicate it in Europe. There are reports that the global firm will look to create 30 stores across the UK – should this initial venture be a success.

Although it is a contactless and cashierless store, Amazon uses its innovative technology to track what a customer purchases.

Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out Technology’ means that customers are able to avoid queuing, and leave with their chosen items. This is because when a customer enters the store, they must scan the Amazon Go app on the gated turnstile before entry. Following this, customers are monitored by cameras.

Weight sensors on the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people are purchasing – and those items are then added to a virtual shopping cart. Shoppers then automatically pay when they walk out of the shop, through the bank card a user has associated with their Amazon account.

Industry reaction

The opening of the first Amazon Go cashierless grocery store in the UK is perfectly timed to reduce physical contact during the pandemic, says ParcelHero.

The launch of the first Amazon Go store in the UK is perfectly timed to help customers during the current pandemic, as the shop has no cashiers to pay or screens to touch. Shoppers simply walk in, take the items they need and walk out.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, said: “Amazon decision to introduce till-free stores wasn’t due to the pandemic. In fact, it has been trialling the technology since 2016 and opened its first Go store to the public in the US in 2018. However, the impact of Covid created the impetus for the company to open its first contactless store outside the US.

“Shopping at Amazon Go stores looks set to become one of the safest shopping options outside of having groceries delivered direct to your home. The first step is to download the Amazon Go App, which is now available on Apple and Android for UK users.

“Once at the store, shoppers hold their phone screen to a scanner at the gate to open it. Anything they take from the shelf is automatically added to the virtual cart. When they have finished shopping, they are good to go – there are no queues, machines or checkouts. Providing shoppers keep their distance from each other, there is no need for any physical contact in the store.

“ParcelHero advises shoppers not to pick up items for any other shopper, even if they are having trouble reaching. It may seem impolite, but you could find yourself charged for the item.

“Amazon has a long-standing relationship with UK supermarket chain Morrisons, which supplies the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service. It is highly likely that Morrisons will be key to the stocking and logistics behind the new Go store. Amazon also owns the grocery chain Whole Foods. Its Richmond branch is just five miles from Ealing, so there are likely to be ongoing potential synergies.

“The Mail on Sunday, which broke the news of the UK Go store, reports Amazon has plans for 30 more stores across the country. However, Amazon is not the only retailer to see the benefits of contactless shopping. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-Op have been trialling ways to eliminate the shopping queue. For example, the Co-op’s Pay in Aisle App was launched in 2018 and Sainsbury’s trialled a cashierless store in London’s Holborn Circus in 2019.”