Amazon Fresh UK store: first impressions

Date : 04 March 2021

Rachel Sibson

Retail Analyst

Amazon has launched a grocery store format in the UK operating under the Amazon Fresh banner. The 2,500 sq ft store is located in Ealing, London. Amazon Fresh is the first convenience grocery store to offer Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology, used in its US ‘Go’ format, outside of the US.

Amazon plans to rollout the concept by opening additional stores in the Greater London area.

Amazon has also launched a new private label brand, ‘by Amazon’, in the store. The range includes everyday essentials, fruit and veg, British fresh meat, freshly prepared sandwiches and meals, bread and hot food served daily. The retailer has also launched an ‘Our Selection’ range for premium products.

Here’s what we know about the new UK store…

1. Easy shopping experience

Unlike the Amazon Fresh stores in the USA, the new UK store features Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, developed for its Go format which launched in the US in 2018.

Shoppers need an Amazon account and the free Amazon app to enter the store. Like the existing Amazon Go stores, when shoppers arrive at the Amazon Fresh store they scan the QR code from the app at the gate to enter the store. Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When shoppers are finished, they can just leave the store.

Unlike Amazon Go stores in the US, customers do not need the Amazon Go app to access the store, but can access through the existing Amazon app. This makes usability for the store much higher as a significant number of people will already have the Amazon app on their phone, removing the barrier of having to download an app before entering the store. 

Shoppers can also pickup and return Amazon parcels in the store. Customers are able to return goods purchased on Amazon.co.uk without having to repackage or relabel the item themselves.

Source: Amazon

2. Range

Amazon has launched a new private label brand, ‘by Amazon’, in the store. The range includes everyday essentials, fruit and veg, British fresh meat, freshly prepared sandwiches and meals, bread and hot food served daily. The retailer has also launched an ‘Our Selection’ range for premium products.

The store also offers branded products from Morrisons and Booths, which Amazon currently has partnerships with through its online proposition.

Source: Amazon

3. Convenience missions

Due to its small size, at 2,500 sq ft, the Amazon Fresh store caters for a range of convenience missions. This includes a food-to-go zone, close to the entrance of the store. The food-to-go range includes grab-and-go products, hot food, fresh bakery items and a coffee-to-go offer. The store also caters for the meal-for-tonight missions with a range of meal solutions including ‘by Amazon’ branded ready meals. The range of everyday essentials allows the store to meet the needs of shoppers on a top-up mission.

Source: Amazon

What does this mean for the Fresh banner in the UK?

Amazon plans to rollout the concept by opening additional stores in the Greater London area. From a shopper perspective, we know this new format is likely to appeal, particularly to tech-savvy younger shoppers whose focus is on time saving. The process for using the technology needs to be seamless for shoppers. Shoppers need to feel confident that they can leave the store without feeling as though they will be stopped due to technology errors. This could be an exciting step-change in UK grocery retailing with its potential to deliver a quick, easy and convenient shopping experience. We expect to see more changes in checkout and payment points on a much wider scale among conventional store operators.

Whilst the store is operating under the Amazon Fresh banner, it has the look and feel of Amazon Go Grocery and the format of Amazon Go. Could this be a test of using the Amazon Fresh banner for a smaller format store, with a view to re-badging the US Amazon Go stores, especially as Amazon Fresh is scaling up at pace in the US?

Just Walk Out technology available to third parties

As well as creating its own unique shopping solutions, Amazon is also making its Just Walk Out technology available to third parties.

For example, travel experience retailer Hudson, which has more than 1,000 stores in airports, commuter hubs and tourist destinations across North America. The first Hudson store to use Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology will open in the first quarter of 2021 at Dallas Love Field Airport. Additional rollouts are planned for 2021. The technology will enable customers to enter the store using their credit card, take the products they are looking for, and walk out.

Having announced the partnership last March, Hospitality group, OTG, has also opened its first CIBO Express Gourmet Market convenience stores featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology. The CIBO Express stores at Newark Airport, New York, are the first two stores to be developed as part of the partnership between OTG and Amazon.

Amazon Fresh USA banner

Amazon launched its Fresh store format in the USA in September 2020. The supermarket format features new technologies including Amazon’s smart shopping cart called the ‘Amazon Dash Cart’. Amazon Fresh is designed to offer a more convenient shopping experience with strong price messaging.

The opening of Amazon Fresh represented further evolution of Amazon’s physical store presence. From a grocery perspective this includes Amazon Go, Amazon Go Grocery and Whole Foods Market. Amazon has been quick to rollout the Fresh format, with ten stores already launched.

The new Fresh store in the UK features electronic shelf edge labels which could offer Amazon the opportunity to show ratings of products, as it does in its Amazon 4-Star format, and/or live discounts.

Amazon also operates physical stores under the Amazon Books format. 

We visited the first Amazon Fresh store in Woodland Hills California and subscribers can read our store visit report here.

Want to see inside Amazon’s stores?

Subscribers can access our visits to…

Amazon Fresh, Ealing, UK

Amazon Fresh, Los Angeles, USA

Amazon Go Grocery, Seattle, USA

Amazon Go, San Francisco US

Find out how you can optimise the online shopping experience for your products and category as more of your customers shop online. Multiple dates available.