The problem with dastardly plans is that often they’re just too damn clever to have been in the masterplan in the first place. Amazon has spent the last decade decimating Britain’s high streets, with faster, better, more convenient service and with a far greater range than anything on offer down your local strip mall.
Along with skyrocketing business rates, Sadiq Khan’s war on motorists making it impossible to pop to the shops, shaky retail empires from greedy billionaires like Sir Philip Green, the shift to online shopping has left the high street gap-toothed and desolate. But now help is on-hand from a surprising source, Amazon is opening actual physical shops.
We already knew that they wanted a piece of the supermarket action, with now several cashless London stores trading by algorithm, but today for the first time Amazon is opening a real life store selling, well, just stuff.
Amazon 4-Star opens at Bluewater shopping centre, just South of London, today and the concept is presumably the first in Amazon’s latest push into physical bricks-and-mortar stores.
As the name implies, 4-Star only sells products that are rated four stars and above on Amazon, hopefully guaranteeing quality (if you believe the reviews).
4-Star only sells products that are rated four stars and above on Amazon...
The shop will include products ranged across consumer electronics, toys, games, books, kitchen and homeware.
The plan is to rotate stock on a rolling basis depending on its popularity and the preferences of local shoppers, data the store is no doubt harvesting at speed.
As you’d expect, there will be a range of Amazon devices available, including Kindle e-Readers, Fire tablets and Echo Dots in a specially dedicated area. But the vast majority of the 2,000 items in stock will be from other retailers, from kitchen specialists Joseph to LEGO.
2,000 is a pretty small number of items to have in stock (Argos would normally hold between 5,000 and 20,000 per branch) but the internet giant presumably will be leveraging its intimate knowledge of our purchasing habits to ensure that they only keep items that we want to buy. Shoppers will be kept abreast of this with displays like “trending in Bluewater” dedicated to the items Bluewater customers are searching for most.
As you'd expect, there will be a range of Amazon devices available...
Amazon 4-star UK’s director, Andy Jones, said: “The Amazon 4-star store is a great place for customers to discover hot new releases, guaranteed page-turners, topselling electronics, and more.
“Every part of the store is designed with our customers in mind and we think they will be delighted by the curated selection of the most-loved products at great prices, opportunity to test drive Amazon’s latest devices, and the convenience of pick-up and returns.”
Plus, unlike Amazon’s food stores, you’ll be able to pay with card and even cash alongside a QR code from the Amazon app.
Anything that brings shoppers back to town centres will be a help...
The arrival of Amazon on the high street that it played a part in decimating will divide opinion, either it’s part of a dastardly plan to gut then dominate the high street, or perhaps more likely, it’s a way for Amazon to play a role in reviving the retail industry?
Anything that brings shoppers back to town centres will be a help. If they expand further than Bluewater, that is…