Online giant Amazon is testing out a series of pop-up kiosks in the capital as it experiments with physical shops. The firm has so far conducted a one-day trial in some of London’s main stations and said it planned more going forward.
The stands will only sell one thing that people can either pay for online, in advance, or in person at the kiosk.
The pop-ups are an extension of Amazon’s so-called Treasure Truck, which travels the UK selling discounted products such as alcohol and razors.
It is the latest foray into the physical world for the retail giant best known for its online presence.
In the US, the firm already has 12 Amazon Go stores, which use cameras and sensors to allow shoppers to put items straight into shopping bags without having to wait at checkouts.
It also bought American grocery giant Whole Foods for $13.7bn (£10.8bn) in 2017.
Retail analyst Richard Hyman told the BBC: “Amazon clearly doesn’t believe that physical retail is dead – far from it.”
Hyman called Amazon an ‘extraordinarily innovative’ company but he said the firm was ‘shooting completely in the dark’ when it came to bricks-and-mortar retail.
He said that meant Amazon was willing to experiment with ‘left-field’ ways of breaking into the physical marketplace.
“Material differentiation is the name of the game for them [Amazon],” he said. “Whether that can be made to be commercially viable is a different matter.”
But Patrick O’Brien from Global Data was more sceptical about the kiosks. “It’s not a profit driver for Amazon, this is about brand building and engaging with customers,” he said.
Amazon’s Treasure Truck boss in the UK, Suruchi Saxena Bansal, said: “Treasure Truck and the new kiosks are about us offering customers another way to shop with Amazon.
“It’s a fun, interactive experience that provides customers access to must-have products and great deals, often available in limited quantities and always accompanied with surprise giveaways.”