Amazon’s checkout-free stores to come to UK?

The first Amazon Go store opened for employees this month. The company now seems to be preparing to open its checkout-free grocery stores in Britain after registering a UK trademark for the format, the Guardian reported.

The Amazon Go store concept allows shoppers to walk out with goods without paying at a checkout. Customers must log in, and then the store uses facial recognition technology and sensors to track items taken off shelves which are then charged to the corresponding Prime account. The first such store, comprising 1,800 square feet of retail space, opened in December 2016 near the company headquarters in Seattle, Washington. It is currently only open to the company’s employees but it is expected to open to the public in early 2017. According to reports, the store sells food staples such as milk, bread and chocolate. Amazon also launched a physical bookshop in its hometown – University Village in Seattle – in 2015.

Although Amazon has remained quiet about whether it plans to launch Amazon Go outside the US, the Guardian found it registered a UK trademark for Amazon Go on 5 December, “indicating it intends to bring the format to Britain”. But this may not be good news for everyone. Concerns are that automated stores like this will put retail employees out of work.

According to The Guardian, the British Retail Consortium predicted almost a third of the UK’s 3m shop jobs would disappear by 2025 as companies use technology instead of people. “If Amazon Go catches on in the UK, established retailers would probably be forced to match its convenience to keep their customers,” the report said.

In May, Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos, said more stores were on the way but this week, the company said it had no grand plan and was still testing the market.

The Guardian said Amazon has made it clear that it is targeting the UK retail market. “In February it announced it would sell fresh and frozen food to UK consumers in a deal with Morrisons and in July it launched Amazon Fresh to sell fresh food to selected postcodes,” the article said. “It is also developing a clothes range, after helping ravage the books, music, home entertainment and consumer electronics sectors over the past decade.”

Source: The Guardian

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