Nicholas Carroll
Nicholas Carroll, Category Director - Retail Insights, has a particular flare for the grocery industry but analyses and writes in-depth reports on a range of UK and European retail markets.

Under its new Clicks and Mortar scheme, Amazon is opening 10 stores across the UK to put small online businesses on the high street. Here, Nick Carroll, Associate Director of Retail, talks about the implications of the scheme.

Online has become the go-to for start-up brands and retailers, but Amazon’s Clicks and Mortar is a really interesting and notable scheme designed to support these smaller brands move into physical space. We have seen eBay launch a similar initiative with its Retail Revival pilot in Wolverhampton. At a time when some high street staples are downsizing, it’s crucial that these units are filled by new and interesting brands to ensure a vibrant mix of stores on Britain’s high streets is maintained, or indeed returned.
Credit: Press Association
It is obviously notable that the two largest online-only players are driving this, with them placing the greatest pressures on physical retail. Indeed, as highlighted by Mintel’s report ‘Amazon: A Shopper’s Perspective – UK, January 2019’, some 45% of Amazon’s own shoppers believe the retail giant is responsible for physical stores closing. However, it’s important to note that 58% of Amazon’s gross merchandise sales came from third-party marketplace sellers in 2018: independent traders are crucial to Amazon’s own model, and as such, helping such businesses to grow is central to Amazon’s own growth.

Indeed, at the same time as the launch of Clicks and Mortar, Amazon has also announced a £1 million fund for SME’s to further develop. This might be the most directly visible example, but Amazon has for the past few years put its marketplace sellers front and centre of its business and marketing. Whilst many think Amazon is responsible for stores closing, four in 10 users believe it does support independent retailers. There is an obvious positive brand building aspect to Click and Mortar for Amazon. However, this should not take away from the fact that at a time when more should be done to support physical retailers, Amazon is one of the few that has put its expertise and money where its mouth is to look at a way to stimulate some growth in physical retail.