Amazon opens first non-food UK store at Bluewater
Amazon has opened the doors of its first UK non-food store with a debut at the giant Bluewater mall in Kent. Although not selling fashion or beauty for now, it’s a strong signal of the once-online-only retailer’s ambitions in physical retail for multiple product categories.
The store sells around 2,000 of its most popular and most highly-rated products and is called Amazon 4-Star, because all of the items on its shelves have received at least a four-star rating from customers.
There are already over 30 such stores in the US, but this isn’t only the first one in Britain, it’s the debut store outside of Amazon’s home country.
The categories currently available inside are varied, raging from books to consumer electronics, toys, games and homewares. It also includes the most popular items from customer wish lists in a Most Wished For section.
Using sources such as wish lists and reviews, Amazon is showing how its data-driven business model is ideal for putting the products it knows consumers want in front of shoppers.
And in knowing that Amazon’s own customers want those products, it can assume that the non-Amazon shoppers it might reach via the store are also likely to be looking or the same items.
As well as offering products in-store, the location can be used as a click & collect hub for picking up online orders and a returns centre without the need for packaging and labels.
It’s unknown yet whether any more such stores are planned for the UK and how many the company might eventually open. The retailer can certainly choose from plenty of attractive locations at present with the large number of retail failures due to the pandemic leaving many more sites empty. That said, Amazonsaid it has been working on the UK plans for two years, having started pre-pandemic.
Whether the store is part of a serious plan for a big chain of shops or is simply bait to draw in more people who will shop online is open to question. But with the 4-Star store brand having launched originally in New York back in 2018, it’s clearly an operation the retailer is committed to, whatever its motives.
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