Tesco beware! Amazon’s humanless stores are coming to London

By Oliver Smith 6 February 2017

No humans required.

It’s news that will send shivers down the spines of Tesco, Waitrose and even Britain’s smaller grocers like Lidl and Aldi.

Amazon is coming to a high street near you.

After launching its first Amazon Go store in Seattle – where customers walk in, grab snacks, bread, milk, etc, and then just walk out – now the online retail giant is coming to Britain.

Read more: Amazon’s soulless shop of the future spells doom for checkout workers

Amazon Go uses thousands of cameras and sensors to track what items everyone is picking up and only charges you once you leave the store… an experience that sounds eerily similar to shoplifting.

Without the need for cashiers or tills, a report over the weekend suggested that a supermarket-sized Amazon Go store could be run by just three human staff – a huge cost-saving compared to traditional supermarkets, although Amazon told The Memo “we have no plans to build such a store”.

Now, this cashier-less concept is coming to the UK.

Clear advantages

In December Amazon filed a trademark in the UK for the Amazon Go concept and, according to The Times, Amazon is now looking at about two dozen sites in and around central London to open stores.

While the concept of Amazon Go is clearly still in very early stages (its Seattle store is only for Amazon staff to use at the moment), eventually it could give Amazon a huge lead over traditional stores.

Without the cost of large numbers of expensive staff, Amazon could either significantly undercut its rivals, or create stores that are far more profitable.

For shoppers it’s also an obvious win-win, no more queuing at the checkout or waiting around for a cashier.

A Fresher take

Amazon’s plan to open high street grocery stores is also an admission that Amazon Fresh, the retailer’s online food shopping and delivery service, hasn’t been as successful as hoped.

The launch of Amazon Fresh in the UK was dogged by criticism over the quality of its food, with complaints about rancid meat and fish, bruised fruit and veg, and missing items appearing online.

In The Memo’s review we found Amazon Fresh to be “quick, efficient, but overpriced” and simply not better enough to justify switching from one of the larger supermarkets’ offerings.

By eyeing up London locations for new stores Amazon is signalling that it has a new plan for the future of grocery shopping, and that’s on the high street.