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Want to feel like a shoplifter? Try shopping at Amazon Fresh!

This week I tried shopping at one of Amazon’s latest Amazon Fresh stores in London, where nine of the company’s first European grocery brick-and-mortar stores have opened their gates since March 2021. My first attempt failed. On my way to an appointment, I wanted to quickly grab a bottle of water, tried to enter the store and got informed by friendly staff about the settings I had to make in my Amazon app prior to shopping. So, I joined several other aspiring customers outside the store frantically changing settings on their phones. Bad internet connection hampered my attempt, so I gave up and left.

Two days later I came back with the settings already in place. At the gates I had to scan a QR code and then I was ready to go. The store in Angel, a busy hub for commuters, is brand-new, it is very clean and the shelfs beautifully orderly (especially compared with those of local competitors like Tesco, Sainsbury’s and even Waitrose). I found the assortment surprisingly broad and attractive, especially considering that this store surely caters to commuters who just want to quickly get a few things.

Other plus points: Very clear signage throughout and a layout that allows for very fast grab-and-go shopping (e.g. for lunch time snacks, hot drinks).

As I made my way through the whole store I was being watched by myriad little cameras (and the staff – I was the only customer at that time, off-peak). And then I grabbed a snack bar and just left. Cashier-less shoppping it is, empowered by Amazon's just-walk-out technology.

A couple of minutes later a message appeared on my mobile phone screen showing exactly what I had bought, how much I had spent and how long the shop had taken me: 2m27s. And only so much time because I had wandered the whole store to get a good impression.

My take-away: surprisingly pleasant shopping experience ( I admit I had had my reservations before), extremely fast and convenient. And since the lady at the gates smiled at me reassuringly upon leaving the store I only felt like a shop-lifter for the shortest moment.

Is this the future of shopping you might ask? Probably one of them. Stay tuned and I will elaborate on that more in my next post.


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