Amazon is strengthening its presence on the streets of the UK with the opening of its first physical non-food store featuring its best-selling lines of books, electronics, toys, games and housewares.
The outlet, at Bluewater Shopping Center in Kent, is the online retailer’s first 4-star Amazon store outside of the United States and will use sales data from its website to determine which products are proving popular with consumers. local buyers.
The range of products sold in the store will change regularly, with Amazon staff responding to customer feedback and new product releases.
Amazon opened its first 4-star store in New York in 2018. The concept takes its name from the idea that all products sold there have been rated at least four out of five stars by shoppers.
The Bluewater store is Amazon’s latest UK brick-and-mortar retailer after a series of other recent trials including a pop-up fashion store, cashless Amazon Fresh grocery store in the UK. West London, and even a high-tech hairdressing salon in the capital.
Andy Jones, the director of 4-star Amazon UK, said the company has been working at the UK outlet since before the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re obviously very keen now to attract customers and see what they think,” Jones said. “We saw that the model worked really well in malls in the United States, so a location like Bluewater made a lot of sense for us.
“There are the Amazon products they expect, but also local products from small vendors because that’s a huge part of the Amazon business. “
The store also includes displays of products from small business sellers, which are sold through the Amazon Marketplace operation.
However, Jones has not confirmed whether the Bluewater outlet is an individual trial or whether more 4-star stores in the UK are planned.
Richard Lim, managing director of consultancy firm Retail Economics, suggested the Bluewater store was a trial run, with the retailer trying to gain more knowledge about customer behavior.
“This is another Amazon attempt to squeeze into the physical retail space. I think as far as Amazon is concerned, this is really just another opportunity to test the market, ”Lim said.
“One of their main motivations and ambitions is to try to better understand how the physical and digital worlds interact. They understand how the digital world works but don’t have much visibility into the physical world.
Lim said if Amazon wanted to open a significant number of stores in the UK, it would do so through the acquisition of an existing retailer, as it did in the US when it purchased the Whole Foods Market grocery chain in 2017.
“They don’t have a big presence in the UK, but they do in the US. If they want to enter the market, they are not kidding, they are doing a test and if they want to continue, a large-scale acquisition would be the best way, ”he added.