Amazon opens first ‘Amazon Fresh’ store in UK, powered by ‘just walk out technology’

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Today, 4 March, Amazon is opening its doors to Amazon Fresh, the first convenience grocery store to offer Just Walk Out Shopping in the UK. Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s first physical shop and first grocery store outside of the US. The first location is in Ealing, London.

To shop the Amazon Fresh store, customers simply use the Amazon app to enter and can put their phone away and shop for what they need like normal, bagging items as they go. At the end of their shopping trip, they can just walk out, no stopping to stand in queue or check out. 

The Amazon Fresh store will also offer customers a wide selection of its new private food brand, ‘by Amazon’. This new brand has hundreds of delicious products, including meat, poultry and fish, dairy, fruit and veg, bakery, freshly prepared meals and everyday essentials. ‘by Amazon’ will also offer customers hot food throughout the day and tasty on-the-go meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Amazon Fresh store will offer customers everything they’d want from their local neighbourhood grocery store with an experience that allows shoppers to simply take what they want and just walk out.

According to Amazon, Amazon Fresh UK shoppers will find everyday ingredients and essentials on their shopping list, along with ready-made meals to help make dinner tonight easier. We offer a wide range of ‘by Amazon’ hot food items freshly prepared in our Amazon Fresh store by our specially trained associates. The hot-food range is regularly replenished and served from a grab-and-go heated cabinet so the food is hot and there is still no need to queue. This will also be the only store in the UK to sell ‘by Amazon’ products, all specifically created with our UK customers in mind. In addition to this, these stores will also sell household goods, magazines, flowers, Amazon devices and more items that we think shoppers will be looking for.

In-store safety measures include:

  • Lowering our max occupancy to 20 so that customers have more space as they shop and associates have more room do their jobs
  • Clear markers to remind everyone of the need to wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing
  • Available PPE and disposable gloves at the store entrance and after the entry gate, as well as hand sanitiser 

Samuel Mueller, CEO at Scandit, said: “After being squeezed by online giants like Amazon for over a decade, UK retailers will be watching this move very carefully.

“Just-walk-out technology may be suitable for small-format stores with limited products that suit the ‘grab-and-go’ model but many retailers cannot use it because their product range is larger, complex and requires explanation. Also, while retailers are waking up to the reality that the key to winning the omnichannel war is to leverage the device in consumers’ hands, they need to think carefully about how the transaction technology fits within the overall customer experience.

“We’re seeing many retailers turning to computer vision powered apps on consumer smartphones that offer a frictionless blend of digital and physical shopping. Consumers want the convenience and choice of self-scanning plus the ability to view real-time product information on their device before buying. 

“The beauty here is that retailers bring all the benefits of online shopping into the physical store, without the need for a costly and time intensive store refit. And the same technology on smartphones can be provided to their employees – adding speed and simplicity to supply chains, operations and customer service.”

Naji El-Arifi, head of innovation at Wunderman Thompson Commerce, said: “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 in-store 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.

“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.

“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.”