It’s been billed as the future of hassle-free shopping – and it’s just arrived in Kent.
Reporter Temi Adedeji was sent to try out the newly-opened Amazon Fresh in Sevenoaks. Here’s how he got on.
I stood in line with my phone in hand as I waited to enter the newly-opened Amazon Fresh store in Bligh’s Meadow shopping centre in Sevenoaks.
I imagined what it would be like. I was aware of the first store which landed in Ealing Broadway Centre shopping mall in West London last March, but I had never ventured there.
Shoppers moved hesitantly towards the electronic gate with their devices in hand, as staff milled around to help with any queries.
I couldn’t help but think how far technology had come. I am a die-hard Amazon customer, but this was a new level of innovation, the future of hassle-free shopping.
I was given a green tote bag, which I think was a nice touch as I half expected plastic ones (I believe in sustainable living).
I looked on with curiosity as one of the workers talked me through the process to get in.
It couldn’t be any simpler. I logged into the Amazon app and tapped on the basket sign.
It took me to a tab called Fresh code which produced a QR code which I then used to scan in at the gate and enter the shop.
Once inside it felt like the shop was somewhere I was always meant to be, everything was arranged perfectly with signs detailing the goods.
From washing up liquid to hot food, I was in a world where my day-to-day needs were met.
Though, I must be fair and say it wasn’t much different to walking around my Sainsbury’s local or Co-op.
It wasn’t massive, nor did it have robots popping out of the woodwork to help me carry my bags.
I did expect the store to be more colourful, or at least have more gadgets to play around with, but that was not the case.
However, what did stand out to me was the efficiency of service. People walked in and out of the store so freely it almost felt like daylight robbery.
It was mid-afternoon and I was starving, so I made my way through the short aisles to grab something to eat from the hot deli.
I ended up settling on a meal deal which consisted of a chicken and bacon wrap, San Pellegrino sparkling orange water and Urban Fruit’s gently baked strawberries.
My grub ended up at a humble £3.50, not much different from any other supermarket and with that I had made my first purchase.
My experience was even-keeled, I had tried something new and was well fed.
I wanted to find out more about what fellow shoppers thought.
Maria, 55, a psychotherapist said: “First it was a little bit strange because I didn’t know what to do, but a lady at the store helped me locate the app and get into the store.
“It was fairly straightforward but I guess for someone not so tech savvy it could be quite difficult, so for the older generation, I can’t see my parents going in there.
“I bought two ready meals and some muffins for my breakfast.
“I like it because there was no queue, I’m so short on time, so being able to go in and not having to find my purse was helpful, everything is nice and easy. Overall it was a really good experience.”
Martin Bridges, 32, owner of Biggs dessert parlour in Sevenoaks High Street, said: “I think it’s great, it’s really good, we used to have a Tesco in the High Street and that closed down so it’s good for shoppers to go there.
“It’s something new and exciting, I’m not sure the older generation will understand the concept of it but for younger people I think it’s great.
“Anything which brings customers is beneficial, some of the shops are struggling to bring customers in because people are going further afield to Bluewater and Lakeside.
“It will bring people into the town centre, not just for Amazon, but to other shops as well, anything which will help other local businesses is a great investment.
“We close around 9.30pm, so for us there’s not many places which are open, so for staff the store will be convenient if they want to grab some dinner or anything on their way home.”
Sharon, 34, works in business affairs and the mother-of-two found the experience “really easy”.
She said: “They don’t have all the stuff you would expect at a bigger supermarket, such as a Sainsbury’s or Tesco, but all the basics are there.
“I bought some stuff for sandwiches for the kids, some snacks for me and my husband but not a full week’s shop.”
Andrea O’Keefe 52, who works as an extended care supervisor at a primary school, said: “I felt it was very good but a bit weird walking out without physically paying.
“I would definitely shop there again.”
Matt Birch, director of Amazon Fresh stores, said: “We’re delighted to open our new Amazon Fresh store in Sevenoaks, the first store to be located outside of London.
“We’ve heard from customers that they appreciate the seamless shopping experience the Just Walk Out technology enables, as well as the wide selection of food.
“Customers will also find our dedicated store team ready to help as they shop.”