Amazon may open pop-up stores in UK, warns expert

E-commerce giant Amazon could be preparing to open pop-up stores in the UK, following launches in the US, warns a consumer research expert.

According to David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, a UK-based international parcel broker, Amazon has long been seen as a ‘shop killer’ and has been responsible for the disappearance of many well-known retailers.

However, the internet retailer has been steadily setting up stores over the past year in the US, with 16 pop-up stores to date and a further 30 planned in 2017. And the UK would be the next logical step for the company, suggested Mr Jinks, as it has previously used the UK to test its innovations outside of the US.

“Don’t go thinking Amazon has had some astonishing conversion and suddenly thinks the high street is the future. Far from it. But it’s likely that Amazon will have 100 pop-ups in place in the US by the end of next year, and the next logical step is to open in the UK,” he said.

“It’s not that Amazon suddenly believes it can sell more items from stores than it can from its e-commerce site. It’s really about presenting a shopfront for its technology. Just as Apple stores transformed its customers’ experience, so Amazon’s pop-up shops in shopping centres help it to showcase its Kindles, Fire Sticks and, above all, its Echo products. For Amazon to be opening so many of these stores, so quickly, it must be seeing a notable uptick in sales in those regions where these shops have popped up.”

Mr Jinks added: “Amazon very often uses the UK as its guinea pig for innovations outside the USA. It pioneered its own logistics arm, Amazon Logistics, here first; and the UK was quick to see Amazon Fresh one-hour groceries and Amazon Flex Uber style deliveries. Pop-ups will surely follow hard on their heels.

“Shopping centres in the US and UK are seeing stores disappearing rapidly, partly as a result of the impact of e-commerce and home deliveries. Ironically, as rents are driven down by these closures, Amazon can snap up space and set up shop for a while with its attractive temporary stores.”

In a recent report, Amazon’s Prime Ambition, ParcelHero revealed that Amazon aims to become the pipeline through which everything we buy flows, which, it suggested, would make these pop-ups worthwhile as a showcase and to bring more members on board.