Online shopping giant Amazon has announced it plans to open 10 pop up shops in various UK town centre locations. The exact towns have not been announced however there will be openings in Wales, Scotland, The Midlands, Yorkshire and the South East of England. As reported in the Guardian, the pop ups are part of a year-long pilot, launched in conjunction with the small business support organisation Enterprise Nation, that Amazon says will give 100 small online businesses their first taste of a bricks and mortar presence.
Online-only sellers that will feature in-store for the first time include the adult kick-scooter maker Swifty Scooters, the leather electronic device case seller Torro Cases, and the men’s skincare brand Altr for Men.
Doug Gurr, Amazon UK’s country manager, said: “Amazon is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses, helping them boost the economy and create jobs across the UK. Small businesses are one of our most important customer groups.”
Amazon said it was also helping to create more than 150 full-time apprenticeships at small online businesses through a new £1m apprenticeship fund “to help increase their productivity and boost online sales”.
Not the first bricks and mortar strategy from the online retailer, checkout-free store Amazon Go opened in the United States last year, where sensors, cameras and computer vision technology tracks shoppers as they pick up items and the customers are automatically billed on an app as they leave, and reports suggest following the success of its 11 stores, US bosses are eyeing up sites near Oxford Circus for its UK venture.
Amazon has been widely criticised for paying relatively little tax in the UK and for poor pay and conditions at its warehouses. Many retailers argue that the rise of the group has been a key factor contributing to the plight of high street businesses.
The news of Amazon's pop ups comes shortly after the online retail giant’s launch of its new Counter service last month in the UK and Italy, which enables quick and easy collection of Amazon parcels from popular retail outlets and convenience stores, including fashion, home and garden retailer, Next. Counter is part of the Amazon Hub family, which includes Amazon lockers. The online retailer explained it has designed and built the technology for Counter from the ground-up, resulting in a quicker and simpler experience for customers. It promises store partners, that the technology enables store staff to serve customers without disrupting their daily activities, “driving meaningful engagement between stores and their customers”.
Founder of Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones, said: “UK shoppers like to shop both online and in high street stores [and this will] enable customers to discover new brands on their local high streets.
“Our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail. This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time.”