Amazon has opened its first checkout-free store outside of the US, a Fresh store powered by the “Just Walk Out” tech used in US Go stores. The shop, located in the West London borough of Ealing, offers Brits the same automated shopping experience that has been available to the US public since 2018. Instead of paying at manned or self-service checkouts, AI-powered sensors track the items you pluck from shelves and put in your basket and charges are automatically applied to your card at exit via the Amazon Go app.
“Our Amazon Fresh store in Ealing is the size of your typical convenience food store, which is roughly 2,500 square feet in the front of house,” Amazon wrote in a FAQ. “We’re excited to bring this concept to the UK and look forward to opening additional stores in the Greater London area.”
The online retailer is getting food supplies from local supermarket chain Morrisons, which it already has an existing relationship with on its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service. It’s also offering a new private food brand “By Amazon,” with hundreds of products including “meat, poultry and fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables, bakery, freshly prepared meals and everyday essentials,” Amazon said in a press release. While it’s using Go-type checkout tech, it doesn’t look like it will have the computer vision and AI-equipped Dash Carts for now.
Word on the UK store first broke in 2017 — just months after Amazon unveiled the Go concept — when it registered a pair of slogans with the country’s Intellectual Property Office. But, since then the expansion has been cloaked in secrecy while Amazon focused on Go’s rollout in the US, where it now boasts around 25 of the physical stores, including a bigger supermarket in Seattle.
With the e-commerce giant riding a tidal wave of orders during the pandemic, the latest unveiling won’t go unnoticed by its UK rivals. Not to be left behind, local supermarket Sainsbury’s introduced its own cashierless grocery store in 2019 in the hopes of building on the popularity of self-scan shopping.
Steve Dent contributed to this report.