February 9, 2017

I beg your pardon… Evil Amazon now want to stop the Brits from queuing


In their latest bid to takeover the world, Amazon has apparently started searching for prime locations in central London to launch their first Amazon Go store in the UK. Last December Amazon Go was registered as a UK trademark. According to The Sunday Times, Amazon declined to comment on this.

So, what exactly is the vision for Amazon Go? Amazon describe it thus:

Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)

This is all well and good, but Amazon seems to be forgetting that, here in Britain, we are BRITISH. We can’t help but queue. It’s part of our DNA. People will join a queue even when they don’t know what they’re queuing for or when the queue will end (tenious link: check out our fantastic dystopian book The Queue). Without queues we could descend into CHAOS.

Anyway, putting aside the queuing issue, how has the first 1,800-square-foot Amazon Go store, which opened its doors to Amazon employees in Seattle at the end of last year, gone down? Well… we don’t know. It’s still being “tested” apparently, and, in accordance with Amazon’s usual code of secrecy, it’s pretty much impossible to find any actual reviews from real-life customers online. Perhaps that’s the point — any actual human interaction or emotion need not apply. The future is robotic (tenious link: read Curtis White’s We, Robots, which argues against this).

The plan is for Amazon Go stores to sell groceries, and not, so far, books. But already Josh Kosman at The New York Post has reported on Amazon’s plans to expand, launching huge, supermarket-size stores “with a bigger layout that could span anywhere between 10,000 and 40,000 square feet… devoted to goods that shoppers typically like to touch… Those could include as many as 4,000 items.”

I like to touch books. But that could just be me.

Kosman goes on to say, “But for many, the most striking feature of the bigger stores is that they could operate with as few as three employees at a time.”

Founded twenty-two years ago, Amazon reported a net income of $596 million in 2015, and Rupert Neate reported for the Guardian that leaked Amazon documents suggest they could be looking at opening a further 2,000 stores throughout the US. Aiming for an income of a cool billion there, are you, Amazon? It will be interesting and equally depressing to see how quickly and expansively Amazon’s plans come to fruition.



Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.