Shop staff are crucial to ‘big four’ survival as Amazon prepares market entry, says retail expert


Britain’s big four supermarkets should invest in their workers to remain competitive when Amazon Go launches in the UK, according to a leading retail expert at Aston University.

Professor Heiner Evanschitzky, director of the Aston Centre for Retail Insights (ACRI) at Aston Business School, comments: “The big four should be worried about Amazon’s move into the market. Checkout-free grocery stores take the next logical step in customer convenience – from self-checkout to “just walk out” – which many will welcome.

“But the development does not have to signal the death of the cashier. Instead of trying to mimic the ‘human-less’ format or compete on price – where the likes of Aldi and Lidl will always come out on top – the big four should play to their strengths and focus on their most important asset: shop staff. Despite the trend towards automation, many customers still want guidance and advice, as well as simple human interaction, as they go about their day.

Professor Evanschitzky adds:

“Our research shows that a customer has to feel inspired to buy. It also reveals that employee behaviour is one of the best ways to increase inspiration, alongside clever product display and in-store design. We wait and see to what extent Amazon Go is able to inspire customers.”

About Heiner Evanschitzky

Professor Heiner Evanschitzky is Professor and Chair of Marketing at Aston Business School and Director of the Aston Centre for Retail Insights (ACRI).

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has always been a force for change. For 50 years, the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry. True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston held a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey.