The first Amazon Fresh store has opened today in Ealing in West London, offering the company’s checkout-less experience to shoppers in the UK for the first time.
The shop, smaller than a standard supermarket, is selling pre-prepared meals, some groceries and Amazon products. It also provides a point to collect and return Amazon purchases.
The store is in a former Monsoon opposite Morrison’s supermarket in Ealing Broadway, which already partners with Amazon for online grocery delivery in the UK.
The move to open in the UK comes after the retailer has gained significant experience of running checkout-less stores in 18 sites across the US. Driven by the pandemic and the changing shopping habits of consumers, the company has brought forward to launch of its Amazon Fresh store in the UK to tap into the need for contactless shopping.
Shopping at the store could well be the safest way to shop for food outside of having groceries delivered and could inspire other physical retailers to look again at how they run their stores.
In fact, back in May 2020, Amazon announced that it had set up a business division to sell the technology behind Amazon Go to other retailers. According to Reuters, the uber-retailer said it has "several" signed deals with customers it would not name. A new website is set to go live later this week that will invite retailers to inquire about the service, dubbed Just Walk Out technology by Amazon.
Other retailers are already on it. 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. For more information on cashierless trials in the UK and other retail initiatives such as paperless receipts.
Commenting, Naji El-Arifi, Head of Innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce: “If retailers can meet consumers’ desire for ease, speed and convenience they will have something on their hands that is indispensable: customer satisfaction. It is rare for a technology to hit all three, usually an idea or a service is good at one of them and if it does that one thing really well it will succeed. However, Amazon Go is one of those rare moments that achieves all three in the equation, and it can serve as the natural next step for quick instore experiences when it comes to grocery shopping in the UK. This now frictionless experience that Amazon Fresh can provide gives the eCommerce marketplace a platform to have a physical presence and expand even further into the UK market."
El-Arifi continues: “Customers will be hard-pressed to find a more convenient small basket shopping experience, especially during a period where we are all conscious of what we touch and cleanliness. Nearly half (48%) of shoppers confessed to being scared about returning to the high street in July, with this number remaining a significant 24% in September so the idea of a store that minimises touch and reduces interaction with other people is a genuine selling point post-Covid-19. And while weathering the storm caused by Covid-19 has presented many challenges for retailers – it has forced digital laggards to innovate and transform operations. In fact, our research found that 75% of consumers wished that all retailers and brands offered the same level of service as Amazon."
El-Arifi concludes: “Thankfully, supermarkets have been primed for the advent of Amazon’s contactless stores for years now and the majority provide a range of online services that allow them to compete, including click and collect and scan and shop. The challenge, then, will be finding a balance between working alongside Amazon to take advantage of its services and audience, while continuing to grow market share in what has quickly become a very crowded sector.”