Customer’s ‘every move scanned’ at Amazon’s first checkout-free shop in England

A customer who visited Amazon’s first food shop in England was “blown away” by what was on offer – but warned the cameras "scan your every move".

Visitors to the Amazon Fresh store in Ealing, west London – which opened on Thursday, March 4 – just require a smartphone app and are automatically charged when they leave.

The company is utilising Just Walk Out technology to ensure customers can avoid checkouts and queues at the shop – which is selling prepared meals, some groceries, and Amazon devices.

It incorporates hundreds of cameras and depth-sensors – including tech with artificial intelligence. It was first rolled out at the company’s Amazon Go shops in the US in 2018.

MyLondon journalist John James paid the store a visit and was impressed by the selection of goods and store layout.

However, he said customers would have reservations about the multiple cameras and Amazon collecting "intimate" shopping details.

He wrote: “When I arrived at the Ealing Broadway superstore I was greeted by a green-coated marshal who directed me to an expertly managed social distancing line.

“The store was tightly controlling how many people could be inside the shop at any one time through its high tech camera system.

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“It remains to be seen if this will be a feature that remains after Covid, but I'm all for it if it means the shop is quieter.”

Mr James was taken aback by the amount of goods available.

He added: “Once I had scanned my Amazon code and obtained entry to the store, I was blown away by the selection on offer.

“I can pay it no higher compliment than to say it felt like a genuine supermarket – which is no mean feat when you consider the competition.

“The shelves were piled high with fresh produce and after stalking the aisles I could find no faults with the product selection.

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“Quite simply, everything you would expect to find in a supermarket was there.”

Like other major supermarkets, the supermarket is offering punters meal deals – with their “night in” offer coming to £5 for a side and a main course.

Mr James added: “The only member of staff in a customer-facing role that I saw was an employee who had been tasked with checking customer ID before the booze aisle.

“Even technology has limits. It seems foolish to herald this as the future of shopping on its first day of opening, but I honestly feel it is.

“Of course there'll be people who are put off by the cameras scanning your every move and express reservations about providing a faceless retail behemoth with the intimate details of your shopping list.

“I understand their concerns, but truthfully I'm converted and really don't care. I never want to pay for a product at the till again.”

Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has raised concerns about Amazon’s use of technology.

Representative Silkie Carlo said: "Amazon's intense tracking of shoppers will create larger personal data footprints than any other retailer.

“Customers deserve to know how and by whom these records and analytics could be used."

The company will only store shoppers’ information for up to 30 days, with further information about its policies available here.

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