Amazon Go: why the retail giant is launching 30 shops in the UK with no till system - and how they will work

Tech and retail giant Amazon is set to open around 30 physical shops in the UK which won’t have checkouts for paying.
Amazon Go stores are set to arrive in the UK.Amazon Go stores are set to arrive in the UK.
Amazon Go stores are set to arrive in the UK.

The news comes in the wake of the announcement that Amazon would be expanding its online grocery offering, taking on traditional online supermarket delivery services.

Where will the shops be?

According to the Sunday Times newspaper, Amazon will be launching over 10 Amazon Go convenience stores across the UK, with a potential further 20 to follow.

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It’s not yet clear where these stores will be, but the first one is likely to be rolled out in London.

Reports also suggest that Amazon is considering opening stores near to transport hubs to capture the commuter market.

With the coronavirus pandemic creating a major shift in homeworking, however, this idea may be reconsidered.

What will the shops stock?

Amazon Go stores are already in operation in the US, in Chicago, San Francisco and New York, with most of these shops focusing on convenience foods.

However, Amazon recently opened a 1,000 square metre Amazon Go Store in Seattle which is more akin to a large supermarket like Tesco.

It’s likely the new UK shops will follow the same model, stocking convenience foods.

However, with the technology used in-store, the idea is that stores could stock pretty much anything.

How do the stores work?

Customers will gain access to the Amazon Go stores with their Amazon Go app, with cameras in-store keeping track of what you buy, then charging your account accordingly.

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The stores will have some staff employed to stack shelves, check IDs and other tasks.

However, Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst who has visited Amazon Go in the US told The Guardian newspaper that while the experience was novel, he wasn’t sure how popular the stores would be in the UK:

"It's brilliant technology and experience, but Amazon are not very good at running shops.

"If you have got a local captive audience, all of whom have got the app and can walk in and walk out, it's great."

Roberts also suggested to The Guardian that Amazon may be using the Go store in order to market technology to other retailers.

There are some rumours that the giant may work with UK supermarket Morrisons to keep stores stocked.

Will other supermarkets introduce similar systems?

Some experts believe the introduction of Amazon Go stores in the UK will put pressure on traditional supermarkets.

Some, such as Tesco and Sainsburys, have already begun to experiment with cashless systems in-store.

Waitrose and the Co-op have also trialled apps which allow customers to pay with their mobile phones.