Amazon Go is a Goer. As The Grocer revealed this week, it’s acquired a number of sites in key central London locations - proving that a leaked brief from the online giant to real estate brokers in January - in which it said it was looking to acquire sites in several parts of the country “including but not limited to” London, Surrey, Kent, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Middlesex - isn’t just another windup.
It’s been difficult to take these reports entirely seriously. There are only 10 sites in the US (vs 7,875 7-Elevens) so it’s not exactly captured the convenience market; this isn’t a case of rolling out a successful formula in a second market.
At the same time, analysts are sceptical that the concept will be sufficiently differentiated here, as the UK grocery market is so much more automated, with self-scanning checkouts used almost universally. Certainly the scan-on-the-go concept is old hat: Waitrose introduced self-scanning devices as early as 2002 (Go Waitrose!). And since 2016, it has been available on mobile at the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s (and Waitrose). As to Amazon Go’s checkout-free scan-and-go solutions, in the past year Sainsbury’s, Tesco and the Co-op have all trialled their own versions, with interesting but inconclusive results. A bit like Amazon’s experience in the US, in fact.
But perhaps Amazon sees our facility with self-scanning technology as a strength, making the UK a better test bed than the US. It’s also intriguing to wonder how the concept might evolve from the current US model. In the US there is no connection between the 10 Amazon Go stores and the Amazon Fresh operations in its widespread DC network. Then again, Amazon has 354 Whole Foods outlets supporting its online operations. So there is no need to integrate Amazon Go stores.
At the same time, in the UK, its Amazon Fresh offer remains limited to a select number of postcodes in and around London. And there’s no big store infrastructure (for now, at least).
So, if Amazon is serious about convenience in the UK, it may have to buy, especially if it wants to scale up quickly. On the other hand, there is no shortage of empty shops…
He’s an authority on a wide range of issues including food waste, health and obesity, product innovation, entrepreneurship and the supermarkets, and makes frequent appearances on TV and radio. He also regularly chairs conferences and hosts awards.
While Adam is a lifelong 'foodie' and 'winophile', he is also passionate about the social aspect of food, and has successfully lobbied the government for funding to subsidise food waste redistribution through The Grocer’s award-winning Waste Not Want Not campaign. He has also, over many years, championed the merits of a balanced diet and common sense in the ongoing debate about obesity.
Adam has picked up a string of awards. He was voted Editor of the Year at the British Society of Magazine Editors Awards in 2015 and 2009 and his support for great journalism has seen The Grocer pick up a string of further awards, including BSME writer of the year (twice); BSME web editor of the year; BSME specialist team of the year; and PPA features writer of the year (twice).
In a 30+-year career as a journalist and editor Adam has also interviewed a wide variety of politicians, celebrities and senior business leaders, including Buzz Aldrin, Richie Benaud, Stelios, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Terry Leahy, Sir James Dyson, Lord Sainsbury, Sir Philip Green, David Cameron and the press secretary to US President Bill Clinton.
Other publications he has edited include Real Business, PRWeek (launching the US edition in seven weeks), Press Gazette and PrintWeek. He has also written for the FT, The Times, Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Observer, The Independent, The Guardian, The Evening Standard and several business publications including Management Today, Campaign and Marketing.
Adam is married with a son and lives in London.