Amazon Go… Coming to a Corner Shop Near You?

Can you remember back to when Ronnie Barker starred as the curmudgeonly old corner shopkeeper Arkwright in Open All Hours?

Whatever happened to the traditional old corner shop? It had everything the present time-poor, stressed out, mobile-addicted 21st-century generation needs. Was handy to pop into, sold everything you could ever need and was quite literally ‘Open All Hours’.
So, who on earth persuaded several generations of us Brits to diligently traipse around a busy town or city ring road in our heavily polluting vehicles? And to a dull, characterless out of town expanse of glass and concrete to visit a Superstore?
No doubt it was the allure of super low prices and the promise of infinite choice. But what an absolute faff and bother! Looking back it almost beggars belief that we fell for it. Fancy selecting our choice of groceries, pushing them around the store by ourselves in their own mobile pickup truck – a trolley! Then unpacking them onto a checkout, packing them back again two minutes later into the same trolley to then take them outside to the car to unpack yet again! That’s before we even got home!

A Corner Shop for the 21st Century

So perhaps the time is right for the corner shop to make a 21st century bang up to date comeback. This time with some big Amazonian muscle behind it.
Ignore the vague rumours of Amazon buying Morrisons. The share price tweaked a little just before Christmas. No doubt as some trader on their way to a Christmas knees up saw a quick profit short selling opportunity between the mince pies and the Krug!
No, if Amazon wanted to go into mainstream grocery – and why on earth would they? Come on they hardly need the buying power! Why not pass miserly Morrisons by and go for Tesco, with a market capitalisation of over a trillion pounds sterling it could gobble up and digest teeny weeny £21bn Tesco during a coffee break and still have room for a choc chip muffin to finish!
Amazon founded it’s not an inconsiderable success on breaking traditional boundaries and offering its customers complete convenience.  Shopping from your armchair delivered to your door. So, it makes perfect sense to bring back the traditional corner shop in a very 21st-century guise. Grocery home delivery makes no money – ask Tesco – plus shoppers like to choose fresh food with their eyes, noses and fingers – so grocery home delivery is not the future – ultra-convenient neighbourhood shopping certainly could be.

Amazon Go shop trial runs

A modern corner shop

Amazon Go

Amazon has 10 Amazon Go’s up and running in America:

  • 4 in Chicago.
  • 4 in Seattle.
  • 2 in San Francisco

…with plans for a total of 3000 stores across the USA.
Completely checkout less, you enter by scanning your personal barcode from the Amazon Go app on your smartphone. Then, simply pick up and select your goods, putting them directly into your own shopping bag. Ceiling mounted facial recognition and movement cameras track every product you choose. It cleverly differentiates between items you browse and put back from those you eventually select. Finally, you simply walk out of the store with your account charged and an itemised receipt immediately sent to your phone.
It is confidently rumoured that they have already retained property consultants to scout the UK for suitable sites to bring the format to these shores.
Convenience has had a pretty good run for the past 10 years and has been the only engine of growth for the UK multiples. In typical disruptor fashion, Amazon could quickly choke that growth channel and literally leapfrog the competition with a truly convenient game-changer – effectively out ‘conveniencing’ the convenience operators.

For further Grocery Industry tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Category Management and our Category Management YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Category Management tips and articles.

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