Amazon Opens First Store Outside U.S.

The new London location uses cameras and weight sensors to detect purchases.

March 05, 2021

Amazon Checkout

LONDON—Amazon opened an Amazon Fresh grocery store in London this week, its first physical store outside the U.S., reports BBC News. The 2,500-square-foot, cashierless outlet in the borough of Ealing operates the same way as the chain’s American Amazon Go stores. However, the new store carries a private U.K. food brand called "by Amazon" and lets customers skip the checkout line.

Customers use a smartphone app to open the store's entry gates. Ceiling cameras and weight sensors on shelves determine what shoppers add to their carts or put back, and shoppers’ on-file credit card is automatically billed after they exit. The store sells prepared meals, some groceries, and Amazon devices. The store also has a counter where customers can up and return online orders.

The store demonstrates Amazon’s ambition to sell food globally and its belief that physical stores are the ideal way to capture people's high spend on groceries, a category it has yet to dominate despite acquiring the Whole Foods chain in 2017.

Amazon is also ramping up its efforts to sell Just Walk Out software, which it uses in its stores. In September, the tech giant also launched Amazon One, a biometric scanner, which allows shoppers to pay by simply waving their hand. With plans to be sold to other stores, sports stadiums, and even offices, the tech also works as an alternative entry method for Amazon Go stores.

Standard Cognition Corp. is another group rising up to offer contactless and checkout-free technologies for retailers. In 2018, Standard opened a test store in San Francisco. Compass has also begun testing both Amazon and Standard’s technology, testing the latter inside a convenience store at the University of Houston.

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