Amazon's first food shop opens in the UK
A new but familiar face is appearing on British high streets.
Amazon has a history of completely changing the way we shop. In 1997 it began by selling music and videos, then by 1998, it went international acquiring various online sellers of books in the United Kingdom and Germany. After that, the following year, Amazon broadened its stock range to cover items now including video games, consumer electronics, home improvement items, software, board games, and toys. Now over two decades later it is also a fixture on the high street as a grocery store?
In Amazon, shop scans you.
Yes, after killing off the highstreet Amazon is now moving into it with its unique chain of supermarkets. I say they are unique because they have no tills or checkouts. Strange, but the system is fairly logical. All you need is the Amazon Go app and a shopping list. You rock up at a store, and then magic happens. You scan in using the app, so the system knows you're in the store and then the wealth of cameras follow you about noting down what you pick up and adding it to your "cart". Sensors, deep machine learning and tech far cleverer than I am, keep track of what you pick up or put down, and then once you have what you came for, you just walk out. The system clocks you leaving the store bills your Amazon account and that's that.
Photo: i/Rhiannon Williams
Ingenious, and quite apt for the times we live in when you want to spend as little time in a supermarket as possible, queuing and bustling past people, this system is far more streamlined.
No word on how it works with shoplifters? If you could smuggle something off the shelf without alerting the sensors ala Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Obviously, stealing is wrong. Don't do it kids. Even if you think the computer won't catch you.
Regardless, the first one has opened here in the UK, called Amazon Fresh, in the US it is called Amazon Go. It is located in Ealing, West London, 59 The Broadway, Ealing, London, W5 5JN if you want to enjoy the futuristic shopping experience (in accordance with COVID restrictions, I think I have to say that?) According to Amazon, the shop has 2,500 square foot of shopping space, which isn't a lot so don't go thinking you'll get your shopping done for a family of four. Think of it more as a rival for Tesco Metro, the little one on the corner you nip into when you realise you're short of milk. While the shop does stock branded items like Jaffa Cakes it will also stock Amazon's on-brand items, inspiringly called 'by Amazon'. Although don't expect Amazon to have set up its own trade deals with banana growers and toilet paper makers, chances are this is a bit like buying an Audi. Piggle off the badges and underneath it says Volkswagen, or in this case Morrisons. While it hasn't been confirmed, Amazon's partnership with the longstanding supermarket brand has likely extended to the supplying of a range of 'own brand' products; including meat, poultry and fish items as well as dairy, fruit and veg, a bakery section, freshly prepared meals as well as everyday essentials. Oddly enough, this store will also sell household goods, magazines, flowers, Amazon devices and more. So when you realise you've run out of cheese and need to pop to the corner shop you can also grab an Alexa smart speaker too.
A simple system, but do they do sausage rolls?
Am I sold on this? Yes. Despite living in the sticks, or possibly due to it, I'm a fan of convenience. Equally being a forgetful bloke who regularly gets home from the big Tesco and finds I've forgotten something, to have a store I could sprint in and out of and grab what I didn't is a deeply appealing concept.
But there you have it. Amazon now has a grocery store. But what do you think? A techy fad or the future of food-finding?