• Barcode Ireland Team

Fresh from Amazon - Amazon Fresh physical stores U.K.

Expanding into bricks and mortar stores in the U.K is yet another milestone for the Amazon behemoth.

Fresh off the press. Amazon have launched their second Amazon Fresh physical grocery convenience store in the U.K. in Wembley Park on 16 March 2021. This hot on the heels of their first Amazon Fresh store in Ealing West London on 4 March 2021.

Matt Birch, the former Sainsbury’s executive who now heads Amazon Fresh Stores U.K said "The focus was just creating a really easy shopping experience for customers.

"We recognise that UK customers want to shop in a convenient way so we really think they will appreciate being able to walk in and walk out with the shopping they need."

Using ‘Just Walk Out’, cashierless retail technology and more compact than Amazon Go stores in the US, Amazon describes their Amazon Fresh offering as a “convenience grocery store,” serving hot food throughout the day, on-the-go meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, staple ingredients, coffee, freshly-baked goods and sandwiches, newspapers and magazines, cards and flowers and Amazon devices.

Promising customers a more frictionless offering than that of other retailers, visitors to the store identify themselves and enter the store by scanning a QR code on the Amazon app, put their phone away, and simply select and bag items which are monitored by hundreds of ceiling cameras and in depth-sensors and… Just Walk Out. They are then billed via the app on exiting the store - no cashiers, no queueing. Contactless. In fact, so confident is Amazon of its futuristic tech that it says shoppers are not under any obligation to check all the items were accounted for!

What’s more, you are not required to be an Amazon Prime member to shop at these stores - just an Amazon account and the Amazon mobile shopping app.

Amazon Fresh will stock around 10,000 grocery products including items sourced from associates Morrisons, Booths and Mindful Chef. Amazon has also launched it’s first private grocery brand exclusive to the U.K - ‘by Amazon’ with items ranging from cupboard staples to seasonal fruit and vegetables, to locally sourced meats, to ready made sandwiches and meals, freshly baked goods and hot food.

Each Amazon Fresh store houses an Amazon Hub counter where customers can conveniently collect and return items purchased online and thereby addressing one of it’s biggest weaknesses - the mounting cost of deliveries and returns. This is also where the pharmacy medicine section ‘coasters’ can be redeemed for drugs.

Alcohol sales are monitored by a member of staff checking for ID.

Amazon has ambitions in the near future to expand it’s U.K footprint by opening 20 plus Amazon Fresh stores in the greater London area.

Innovative yes, but the threat to the other major players in the retail space is likely to be minimal as building a meaningful share in the retail grocery market is a long term undertaking. Perhaps more significantly, this Just Walk Out contactless technology will spur on the existing major retailers to innovate around the checkout experience in order to compete - especially in an age of Covid.

Amazon are also offering to sell this Just Walk Out technology to other major retailers and ultimately may decide this would be a more profitable route to go rather than challenge the established U.K chains.

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