Amazon has just opened its first “just walk out store” in the UK where shoppers can put goods straight into their bags and leave the store without needing to visit a cashier or self-scan checkout.
The Amazon Fresh store in Ealing is open to anyone with an Amazon account and with the right app on their smartphone. To use the service, you simply scan a code as you walk in. This retail innovation is powered by a combination of on-shelf sensors that detect when items have been removed, together with cameras that monitor how shoppers move around the store.
This is Amazon’s first International cashierless store outside of the US, where their first ‘Amazon Go’ store launched in Seattle in 2016. There are now over 24 of these stores in the US. According to Amazon, the 2,500 sq ft store has around 10,000 SKUs and includes products from famous FMCG brands, Morrisons and Booths as well as own-label ‘By Amazon’ products. The convenience format store has cleverly integrated Amazon services including a desk for pickups and returns and also self-serve coffee machines.
The presence of hot and cold ‘grab and go’ takeaway foods shows that Amazon expects the store to operate like rivals’ convenience stores and a lot of the food-to-go offerings appear to resemble the wraps, salads and hot-boxes from the likes of Pret a Manger. Due to the pandemic, the store currently has a maximum capacity of 20 people – and the lack of physical cashiers also supports the additional PPE measures. The new store needs less staff than a regular convenience store – however despite the “just walk out” technology, staff are needed on site for shelf replenishment and to ID customers who are purchasing alcohol. It’s a wonder the tech can’t accurately confirm how old somebody is!
What does Valley make of Amazon’s new store?
Amazon’s foray into physical retail in the UK reinforces the shift we’ve seen from pure-play e-commerce providers moving more and more into the physical realm. Amazon had already established a national partnership with Morrisons, making groceries available fast via its Amazon Prime service. We’re not surprised by this move into physical retail and it makes perfect sense to integrate extra services such as Amazon pickup and returns. Much in the way that Amazon has made a huge success of its Amazon Web Services cloud hosting business, we expect to see it offer its cashierless technology to the other British retailers – so expect to see similar offers in the market very soon.
Finally – a break from the annoying words “unexpected item in bagging area.”