Amazon has announced the opening of its first non-food store in the UK, to range around 2,000 of its highest-rated lines.
The 3,500 square feet store opens in the Bluewater shopping mall near Dartford today (October 6th) and will carry around 2,000 of the online retailer’s most popular and best-rated products. Named ‘Amazon 4-star’, the store’s inventory will be made up of items that have been given more than four stars in their Amazon ratings by customers. The product selection is set to change regularly, linked to what is selling well digitally, but is said to currently include Lego sets among the items on offer.
There are already more than such 30 outlets in the US, but this will be the first Amazon 4-star store outside that territory.
Amazon says the range of products, which includes books, consumer electronics, toys, games and homeware, will reflect what Amazon customers are buying online. A “Most Wished For” section will display the most popular products from customers’ wish lists.
Shoppers don’t need to have an Amazon account to make purchases, which will have digital price tags to ensure that prices match those offered online.The digital information will be regularly updated to include review ratings and the number of reviews each SKU has received.
Customers will also be able to scan a QR code and get billed later from their account, with buyers emailed once their receipt is ready, or pay using traditional counters. They will be able to collect items ordered online and return items without the need for packaging and labels.
Andy Jones, director for Amazon 4-star, UK, said: “Convenience is part of the store offer. This is a store that has been created by customers for customers. It is another opportunity for us to innovate on behalf of customers.”
Amazon has not yet confirmed how many more stores are planned for the UK, and retail experts are of the opinion that the retailer is experimenting with the format before committing to further bicks and mortar premises.
Retail analyst Natalie Berg told the BBC that Amazon’s aim is to encourage more online shopping. “This is not about shifting more product; it’s about baiting shoppers into Amazon’s ecosystem,” she said. “It’s about getting shoppers to engage with Amazon’s devices, reminding Prime customers of the value in their memberships, and offering additional choice when it comes to collection and returns of online orders.”
Amazon already has six grocery stores in the UK with checkout-free technology, but the reception to these has been mixed. Natalie added: “The 4-star concept has the potential to be a bit muddled and uninspiring. The store features a smorgasbord of products, the result of Amazon’s very scientific, data-led approach to physical retail. But when you strip out the high-tech touches, I struggle to see how it differentiates from any other retailer.”