Amazon opens its first UK retail store, but is anyone buying?

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Sundry Photography)

The first Amazon 4-star retail store has opened in the UK, offering high street shoppers the opportunity to buy some of the tech giant's most popular products like the Amazon Echo or Kindle Paperwhite, without having to shop online for them.

As reported by BBC News, the Amazon 4-star has opened near Dartford, Kent, and the name refers to the fact that every product sold in the store has a rating of 4 stars or more on Amazon's website.

The Amazon 4-star marks the first non-grocery store the company has opened in the UK, and while director of Amazon 4-star UK, Andy Jones, declined to comment to the BBC about how many more stores he plans to open, it's safe to assume that more will follow should this inaugural store prove a success.

While the Amazon 4-star store could offer consumers a way to shop for Amazon's best products without waiting for a delivery, not everyone is convinced by the store's potential convenience.

Retail expert Natalie Berg told the BBC that the concept of the 4-star could risk being "muddled and uninspiring."

"The store features a smorgasbord of products, the result of Amazon's very scientific, data-led approach to physical retail." said Berg. "But when you strip out the high-tech touches, I struggle to see how it differentiates from any other retailer."

One key difference to note from other retailers, however, is 4-star's use of digital price tags. These mean that in-store products can always reflect the price of the same items found on Amazon's website.

Analysis: Is an in-person Amazon really all that valuable?

It looks like the one big advantage the Amazon 4-star store has over its online counterpart is that customers can purchase a product in store, bypassing the wait for delivery. However, there really doesn't seem to be much else that separates 4-star from the online Amazon experience.

Products featured in store reflect that of the highest rated ones available on Amazon's website, so there's nothing particularly specialized about 4-star stores. You're not getting anything in store that you can't easily shop for online.

That, and as Berg pointed out above, the store risks coming across as muddled and potentially quite disorganized. Why waste time searching for the perfect product in store when it's just a search bar away on Amazon's own site? And given that 4-star doesn't offer any kind of unique experience, there seems to be little point in visiting the store, even for an in-person high street experience.

Plus, digital price tags likely mean that you'll get no exclusive benefits for shopping in-store, as prices for in-store items are set to reflect those of their online equivalent, unless Amazon decides to set up bespoke promotions for 4-star stores down the line.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.