WHSmith to trial Amazon’s Just Walk Out tech in new store

WHSmith is to trial Amazon’s Just Walk Out tech in new store which will be based inside one of New York’s major international airports.

The store will be WHSmith-branded instead of using one of its other fascias including as InMotion or MRG, and sell essentials to travellers.

Retail Week revealed that customers will not need an Amazon account to access the store unlike in its grocery stores.

Instead, customers will just need to tap or scan a card upon entering the store.

“In travel and air, it’s all very fast-paced and we always want to make sure that we’re at the top of the curve when it comes to new technology,” WHSmith chief executive Carl Cowling told Retail Week.

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“We think it’s very interesting to test this kind of store in an airport environment.”

“I see it as being complementary. I don’t think that we’ll suddenly have a large WHSmith in an airport that’s checkout-free – the nature of airport trading means that there will always need to be some intervention.

“Where I do think this could be interesting is in extra stores at the end of piers and in secondary locations where you don’t have a huge customer flow and so could just sell some of the essentials. Colleagues from the main store could then restock it.

“It’s very early days, but it will be an interesting trial. We have a view of what the results might be, but we don’t have a next step yet – we want to open the store, understand it and then see what the opportunity might be.”

The retailer has plans to open a number of store locations in the coming year, saying it had won more than 100 stores yet to be opened in its travel arm, including 22 of the stores that borrow Amazon’s tech.

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