UK’s first cashier-less store to set a new trend in retail sector - GulfToday

UK’s first cashier-less store to set a new trend in retail sector


A customer scans her phone as she enters Amazon's new Amazon Fresh store in London. AFP has opened its first-ever physical store outside the United States, which is expected to create a new trend in the British retailing sector. The world’s largest online retailer said the cashier-less store, dubbed ‘Amazon Fresh’, is located in Britain, in the London Borough of Ealing. It will carry a private UK food brand it’s calling ‘by Amazon’ and will let consumers skip the checkout line when they shop.

To use the new outlet, customers have to download an app and then scan a QR code before an electronic gate swings open and allows them to browse a range of Amazon-brand products. The opening is a sign of the Seattle-based company’s ambition to sell food globally and its belief that physical stores are a key way to capture consumers’ high spend on groceries, a category it has yet to dominate.

It so far has worked toward that goal in the United States by acquiring the Whole Foods Market chain in 2017 and testing shoppers’ interests with an array of other formats: about two dozen cashierless convenience stores called Amazon Go, two Seattle-area Amazon Go Grocery stores that are about four times the size, and 10 Amazon Fresh supermarkets in California and Illinois. As in the Go stores, customers will scan a smartphone app to open the UK store’s entry gates. Ceiling cameras and shelf weight censors determine what shoppers add to their carts or put back, and their on-file credit cards are billed after they exit.

The location, much smaller than a supermarket, will sell prepared meals, some groceries, and Amazon devices, as well as offer a counter for picking up and returning online orders.

Amazon on Thursday launched its first “just walk out shopping” outlet outside the United States, as the online retail giant steps up its competition with traditional supermarkets and other retailers.

The outlet, according to Amazon, is the “first convenience grocery store to offer just walk out shopping in the UK” and its “first physical shop and grocery store outside of the US”.

On its opening day, a team of assistants, dressed in vibrant green jackets - the same colour as the grocery shop’s colourful branding - were on hand to explain how the system worked. Once they have bagged their items, customers don’t have to show a card or let anyone know, they simply walk out.

“It was really strange, it felt like I was a criminal, because I was just taking things and putting them straight in my bag,” 71-year-old Ealing resident Philippa Dolphin said.

“But apparently there are cameras watching me. And then you just walk out. It didn’t seem right but I was assured it was okay”, she added.

Amazon has said the store, which is similar to 20 Amazon Go outlets in the United States, uses “deep learning” algorithms - technology which allows machines to learn by themselves - with cameras and sensors to tell what customers have picked up.

“It automatically knows what you’ve got in your basket and when you leave the shop it charges you and bills you automatically into the account you have set up,” said Erica Ely, a 57-year-old local resident, holding her purchases on the street outside the shop.

Benjamin Rogers, 31, a sales manager who lives in the area, stopped in to buy ingredients for a cake and said the speed of shopping at the Amazon store made it appealing.

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