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Amazon opens first no-checkout store outside US in London

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Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
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Customers shop for groceries inside Amazon Fresh store in Ealing, west London, the company's first no-checkout store in the UK which opened on Thursday. Photo: Niklas Halle'n/AFP via Getty
Customers shop for groceries inside Amazon Fresh store in Ealing, west London, the company's first no-checkout store in the UK which opened on Thursday. Photo: Niklas Halle'n/AFP via Getty

Amazon (AMZN) has opened the doors to its first grocery store outside the US that offers what the company calls ‘Just Walk Out Technology’ in Ealing, London.

When shopping at the Amazon Fresh store, customers will need to be signed up to Amazon’s Prime subscription service, which costs £7.99 ($11) a month. They can then download and log in to the Amazon app and tap the basket icon in the app and click ‘Fresh Code’ to get a QR code, which they will scan at the gates to enter.

They can then put their phone away and pick up the items they need. When they're done shopping, they can just walk out. The bill is automatically charged to their Prime account once they leave the store.

On its website, it explained that this checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: "computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning."

"Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual basket. When you're done shopping, you can just leave the store. Later, we'll email you a receipt and charge your Amazon account," it explained.

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“The Amazon Fresh store will offer customers everything they’d want from their local neighbourhood grocery store with an experience that allows shoppers to simply take what they want and just walk out,” the company said in a statement. This will include items from its retail partner Morrisons (MRW.L).

The store will also offer customers a selection of its new private food brand, "by Amazon" which includes meat, poultry and fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables, bakery items and freshly prepared meals.

As far as COVID-19 measures go, Amazon has lowered its maximum occupancy to 20 and put in place clear markers to remind everyone of the need to wear face coverings and maintain physical distancing.

Customers won’t need to interact with a member of staff although they will be around to deal with queries, restock shelves and prepare food.

Amazon also said it plans to open additional stores in the Greater London area. It already has some 20 contactless grocery stores in the US under the name Amazon Go.

Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, was quoted in the Guardian as saying he believed Amazon would want up to 30 stores in the first phase of its expansion in the UK.

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