- Britain’s Intellectual Property Office has approved the trademark of two Amazon Go slogans, indicating the e-commerce giant is taking its high-tech store format abroad, according to Bloomberg.
- Amazon, which launched its Fresh service in the U.K. last year and partnered with William Morrison Supermarkets to offer product ordering and delivery, is seeking to bolster its presence in the hyper-competitive British grocery industry.
- The move could put pressure on conventional retailers like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which are quickly losing market share to discounters Aldi and Lidl.
The British supermarket industry is intensely competitive, with the four longstanding conventional retailers (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons) facing off against one another, as well as discounters Aldi and Lidl. The e-commerce market there is also much more advanced there than in America, with around 7% of grocery purchases happening online.
It’s a tough industry for a newcomer to break in. But if anyone can do it, it’s Amazon. The company has loads of spending power, an appetite for disruption, and with its Go concept, a headline-grabbing store that can stand out from the competition. There’s no word yet on where or when, exactly, the store will open, but it is sure to draw crowds and boost Amazon’s brand recognition.
Of course, now doesn’t exactly look like the best time for Amazon to expand its checkout-free store, considering its Seattle location has delayed its public opening due to technical glitches. According to Amazon insiders, the store, which opened to employees in December, is having trouble processing more than 20 customers at a time, and has difficulty recognizing products that aren’t placed in precise locations on shelves. No word from the company yet on when it will have everything fixed.
Assuming these kinks get worked out, Go could prove quite disruptive in the U.K. Already, it has proven it’s got the sharp elbows needed to compete. Last year, the company muscled in on Morrisons’ relationship with Ocado, the U.K.’s leading grocery e-commerce provider, striking a deal that now includes one-hour product delivery in London and Hertfordshire.
Even if Amazon Go doesn’t spread throughout the country, it will at least provide an image boost that could benefit the company’s expanding Fresh services and future retail partnerships.
As in America, the bigger question is what, exactly, Amazon has planned for the grocery market. It’s introducing new store formats and slowly (very slowly) growing its online presence. There are those who believe the online giant is carefully probing the industry, searching for soft spots and opportunities before quickly expanding. Others question the retailer’s strategy and believe the company faces more of an uphill battle against the likes of Wal-Mart, Aldi and Lidl than most people bargain for. No matter what Amazon’s future is in grocery, supermarkets have seen its impact on other retail sectors and are getting ready.