Amazon Go: what is it and will it launch in the UK?

Retail giant reportedly on the hunt for location in London’s West End

Amazon Go
Amazon already has five Go stores in the US
(Image credit: 2018 Getty Images)

Amazon’s cashless Go store may be coming to the British capital soon in a move to expand the popular concept beyond the US.

Sources familiar with the project told The Daily Telegraph that a move to London’s busy West End was on the cards and that the retail giant was already scouting out locations for its hi-tech stores.

The news comes as rumours mount that Amazon is in talks with a number of major US airports, including Los Angeles International and San Jose International Airport, to bring its hi-tech stores to holidaymakers, according to Reuters.

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The company already has five stores in the US, three in Illinois and two in Washington State. The first of these opened at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters in 2016, the London Evening Standard reports.

With the cashless stores said to be making their way to the UK and possibly Europe, here’s everything you need to know about Amazon’s latest venture:

What is it?

Amazon Go is a futuristic retail store that lets customers pay for items without the assistance of a cashier or self-service checkout.

To use the store, customers must download the dedicated Amazon Go app to their smartphone and log into their account. This ensures their payment details are up to date.

Once inside, customers can pick up items off the shelves and place them in their shopping bag. There is no fumbling with cash or credit cards. Cameras and sensors monitor the collected items, adding them to the virtual basket on customers’ Amazon accounts, The New York Times reports.

If an item is put back on the shelf, the app immediately removes the product from the customer’s online basket, the newspaper adds.

Although there are no cashiers, assistants stand near the alcohol section to ensure customers meet age requirements.

When customers have finished shopping, all they have to do is scan their app on electronic gates located at the store’s entrance and exits. The customer is then charged for the items through the payment details linked to their Amazon account.

Is it foolproof?

Not entirely. While the sensors and cameras in each store have proven to be effective at scanning items, a number of people have walked out of Amazon Go shops with products they weren’t charged for.

In January, for instance, CNBC reporter Deirdre Bosa posted on Twitter that she accidentally “shoplifted” after leaving an Amazon Go store with yoghurt that wasn’t charged to her account.

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In response to the incident, Amazon Go vice president Gianna Puerini told CNBC that the incorrect scanning of items “happens so rarely we didn’t even bother building in a feature for customers to tell us it happened.”

“So thanks for being honest and telling us,” she said, adding: “Enjoy the yoghurt on us.”

When does Amazon Go arrive in the UK?

Amazon has yet to outline plans to expand into Europe, but a company insiders told the Telegraph that the company’s US team was orchestrating a push to open one of its cashless stores in London’s West End, one of Europe’s busiest shopping areas.

Oxford Circus is said to be the preferred location for the store. Amazon is thought to be on the lookout for a site between 3,000 and 5,000sq ft in size, the newspaper says.

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