Amazon opens first UK non-food store
Amazon is expanding its high-street footprint in the United Kingdom by building its first non-food physical store, which will sell its popular books, gadgets, toys, games, and homeware. The store, located in the Bluewater shopping complex in Kent, is Amazon's first 4-star store outside of the United States. It will utilize data from its internet sales to determine which goods are popular with local customers. As Amazon responds to user input and new product releases, the store's product selection will vary regularly.
In 2018, Amazon established its first four-star shop in New York. The idea behind the concept is that all of the items offered there have received at least four stars out of five from customers. After a series of previous experiments, including a fashion pop-up shop, a till-less Amazon Fresh grocery store in west London, and even a hi-tech hair salon in the city, the Bluewater store is Amazon's latest foray into UK bricks-and-mortar commerce.
An image showing a shopper entering the store. (Image Credit: Amazon)
According to Andy Jones, the business has been working on the UK shop since before the coronavirus outbreak, director of Amazon 4-star UK. Displays of items from small business vendors are also available at the store, offered through Amazon's marketplace. On the other hand, Jones refused to say if the Bluewater shop was a one-off test or if other UK 4-star stores were in the works.
"Obviously, we're really itching to get consumers in and see what they think," Jones explained. "We've seen how successfully the idea has worked at malls in the United States, so a site like Bluewater made perfect sense to us."
"There will be Amazon items, but there will also be local products from small suppliers, as that is a big part of Amazon's business."
Displays of items from small business vendors are also available at the store, which is offered through Amazon's marketplace.
A picture of the store in Kent. (Image Credit EssexLive)
On the other hand, Jones refused to say if the Bluewater shop was a one-off test or if other UK 4-star stores were in the works.
According to Richard Lim, CEO of consultancy Retail Economics, the Bluewater shop was a test, with the retailer attempting to learn more about consumer behaviour.
"This is Amazon's latest attempt to infiltrate the physical retail industry. As far as Amazon is concerned, I believe this is just another chance for them to test the market," Lim added.
If Amazon wanted to build many stores in the UK, Lim said it would do it by buying an existing high-street business, similar to how it did in the US when it purchased the Whole Foods Market food chain in 2017.
"They don't have a large presence in the United Kingdom, but they do in the United States." If they want to enter the market, they don't waste time; they do a test, and if they're going to continue, a large-scale purchase is an ideal option," he added.