Amazon is working with small businesses to open pop-up stores in cities across the UK, in a move that aims to reflect UK shoppers’ appetite to buy on the high street.
The online retail giant is working with Enterprise Nation, which supports more than 90,000 UK small businesses, to launch 10 Clicks and Mortar pop-up shops in a year-long pilot. The first opens in central Manchester today, and will be followed by outlets in Wales, Scotland, Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South East.
All of the pop-up shops feature retailers who have built their businesses online – more than 100 will be featured in the stores in total. Those with a presence in the Manchester store include Swifty Scooters, leather electronic cases manufacturer and retailer Torro Cases, and skincare business Altr for Men. “This gives us the first step in bringing the brand to life, letting customers be more interactive and giving them an opportunity to try and feel the product in the flesh,” said Alex Doyle, chief executive of Altr for Men.
Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon, said: “Small businesses are one of our most important customer groups and we’re thrilled to work with Enterprise Nation to design a comprehensive package to help entrepreneurs across the UK grow their businesses, both in-store and online. From giving up-and-coming online British brands the chance to experience physical retail, to funding the training of full-time apprenticeships and helping to increase SME exports, Amazon is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses – helping them boost the economy and create jobs across the UK.”
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “UK shoppers like to shop both online and in high street stores, and our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail. This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time, while enabling customers to discover new brands on their local high streets.”
Commenting on the news, Anthony Gavin, regional director of Narvar EMEA, said: “Amazon making its foray on to the UK high street is another example of the ever-changing retail landscape. For quite some time the industry has separated online and offline shopping when, in fact, shopping today is fluid and continuous. There is no start or end to a customer’s path to purchase and beyond – instead it is made up of a number of ‘touchpoints’. These touchpoints are moments, for example dispatched delivery notifications in the post-purchase stage of an online order, that retailers can capitalise on to build customer loyalty. Now, with an online and offline offering Amazon covers many ‘touchpoints’ for customers – providing them advanced convenience something we know is a great importance to shoppers today.”
The initiative echoes and amplifies a move by eBay last month to open a store in Wolverhampton, showcasing the wares of local retailers, as part of its Retail Revival programme.
Amazon is also launching a £1m apprenticeship fund, to help small and medium sized businesses training more than 150 full-time apprentices. It will also provide free digital training to small businesses at Amazon Academy events across the UK.
Some 58% of the products sold on Amazon’s website were sold by smaller sellers in 2018. Last year, Amazon says, it helped to support more than 80,000 UK jobs at small businesses who achieved £2.5bn in export sales.
Amazon is an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research.