Retail strategies during the pandemic have been an unsurprisingly red-hot topic.

Brands have adapted their product lines to lockdown lifestyles. To take fashion brands as an example, loungewear skyrocketed with Anthropologie reporting a 27% sales rise in the third quarter of 2020 and videoconferencing provoked a surge in office-wear with a waist-up design focus.

Everyday brand names are disappearing as e-commerce giants snap them up. Asos, who purchased Topshop for £295M, have re-launched the business online. Similarly, Boohoo has bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55M but will not be taking over its brick-and-mortar units.

So, what does the future hold for the high street?

The future of retail remains unclear, but one interesting development is making headlines – the opening of Amazon Fresh’s first UK store. This store is the first of its kind outside of the US. So how does it work?

Customers require the Amazon shop app to be downloaded. On the app, customers click on the “Amazon Fresh” tab. This provides a QR code which can be scanned to enter through the store barriers – like an airport boarding pass. Once inside there are no cashiers and no payment points. Shoppers pick up their items and when they exit the store with them, their Amazon account is automatically charged. There is also a collection point in-store for Amazon deliveries so customers can pick up their parcels.

In terms of produce, the store is like any other supermarket with fresh food, alcohol, a bakery, a coffee machine and more, though there are also Amazon tech products on sale. Food products are a mix of typical brands (two thirds) and Amazon own branded products (one third).

There have been mixed reviews over Amazon’s new “contactless” store. Without the need to queue at tills the experience is streamlined however concerns have been raised about surveillance and privacy. Cameras around the store monitor shoppers at all times alongside the “in-depth sensor technology”.

The branch is located in Ealing, in West London but rumour has it that Amazon are planning 20 more UK stores and that deals are in place for 25 sites.

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