Amazon is expanding its presence on the High Street by opening its first non-food store in the UK – Amazon 4-Star. The shop is located in the Bluewater shopping mall near Dartford. Amazon will sell around 2,000 of its most popular and best-rated products there.
The name chosen for the store, Amazon 4-star, was chosen because every item stocked has been given more than four stars by customers. This will be the first Amazon 4-star store outside the US, where there are already more than 30 outlets.
The range of products, which takes in books, consumer electronics, toys, games and homeware, reflects what Amazon customers are buying online. There’s a “Most Wished For” section, for instance, showing the most popular products from customers’ wish lists. Digital price tags are used to ensure the prices are the same in-store and online. Shoppers don’t need to have an Amazon account to use it. Customers will also be able to collect items ordered online as well as return items without the need for packaging and labels.
Andy Jones, director of Amazon 4-star UK, has not yet confirmed just how many more stores he plans to open in the UK. However, we expect the expansion of these stores to the UK indicate a positive sign of progression for the brand.
This global giant is often accused of killing the High Street by overtaking items bought in store, previously only selling products online. Now they are increasing their appearance by moving into a physical store. Perhaps the expansion of Amazon to the shopping center can encourage more to find their way back to the High Street.
Retail expert Natalie Berg said the Amazon move “is purely about experimentation”. Amazon has already opened six grocery convenience stores in the UK with checkout-free technology. Berg said the jury is still out as to whether Amazon can do one of the most fundamental retail tasks – run stores. “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,” says Ms Berg.
Landlords, though, may welcome the move as they try to find new players to take on empty shops, driven largely by our shopping habits moving online. Perhaps Amazon can make a change in the in-person industry.