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Amazon’s First Checkout-Free Store Has Landed In The UK – With More Set To Open Soon

Erm, welcome to the future, I guess?

By Alex Landon

Amazon’s First Checkout-Free Store Has Landed In The UK – With More Set To Open Soon

Amazon Fresh opened in Ealing this morning.

Back in 2018, rumour had it that Amazon was snooping around the city looking for shop space for their checkout-less shopping concept, the first version of which opened in Seattle that same year. Reports suggested they were looking to set up shop in London, too – and just this morning (March 4, 2021), the first checkout-free Amazon Fresh store has opened its doors in Ealing. 

Photo: Niklas HALLE’N / AFP

The concept is this: customers can simply walk in, pick up the items they want, and walk out. No checkouts. No queues. No human interaction. The bill will just be charged directly to their Amazon accounts. Now, if you’re wondering “how the f*ck does that work, then?”, you’re in the same boat as us. Well, Amazon Fresh uses futuristic technology to achieve contactless shopping, which in theory will eliminate queues. (Of course, the great irony at this stage is that social distancing means you currently need to queue outside the store, but hey, that’s only temporary.)

Photo: Niklas HALLE’N / AFP

Customers are required to scan a QR code upon entry to get into the store, and from there, thousands of cameras, motion sensors, and algorithms will be used to identify the items they’re buying. When a customer completes their shopping and leaves the store, the bill will be charged directly to their Amazon account. Using the Amazon Fresh store is currently restricted to Amazon Prime customers only.

In theory, the store eliminates much of the need for human employees at the store (a dystopian/utopian viewpoint, depending on how much you like people). However, Amazon Fresh will have some workers on-site for the purpose of restocking shelves, assisting customers, and preparing food. Speaking of food, groceries here will be a mix of name-brand products, items from Morrisons and Booths (who are both signed up as Amazon’s partners), and some ‘By Amazon’ products.

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Photo: Niklas HALLE’N / AFP

It’s unlikely to be the last Amazon Fresh store we see in the UK; they’ve already got over 20 sites operating in the US under the Amazon Go label (Amazon Fresh being the European brand), and The Guardian reports they have another ten sites around the country lined up for their expansion plans. Will you be giving Amazon Fresh a try?

If you’d prefer to shop local instead, here are some of the best markets in Manchester.

[Featured image: Niklas Halle’n/AFP]