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Amazon to boost small businesses with stores across UK

By Jonathan Powell in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-06-04 02:45

People look at 'Swifty scooters' for sale inside the Amazon-backed pop-up store 'Clicks and Mortar' in Manchester, on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

Online retail giant Amazon is to set up high street stores in test locations throughout the United Kingdom as part of a scheme that it claims will help more than 100 small businesses combine online and in-person sales.

The trial scheme, branded "Clicks and Mortar", will run for one year to test the viability of the concept, and act as a location for customers to try out products from online-only brands.

British retail has struggled in recent years, as major chains including Marks & Spencer and Debenhams have announced store closures. Toys R Us and Maplins have closed down entirely, with the rise of internet shopping cited as a factor. 

The so-called pop-up shops will sell homeware, health and beauty, food and drink and electronics and are a partnership between Amazon and small business support group Enterprise Nation.

Foldable adult scooter company "Swifty Scooters", leather smartphone accessories maker "Torro Cases" and men's skincare product maker "Altr for Men" are among the online brands that will be selling in the shops for the first time, Amazon said.

Amazon announced it is also providing one million pounds ($1.25 million) for training schemes for 150 full-time apprentices, to help small to medium enterprises, known as SMEs,increase their productivity.

"From giving up-and-coming online British brands the chance to experience physical retail, to funding the training of full-time apprenticeships and helping to increase SME exports, Amazon is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses – helping them boost the economy and create jobs across the UK," said Doug Gurr, UK country manager of Amazon.

The first shop opened in central Manchester on Monday, with another nine to open in Wales, Scotland, the Midlands, Yorkshire and across the South East. Independent research on the success of the pilot stores will help to develop the government's "Future High Street" strategy.

"UK shoppers like to shop both online and in high street stores, and our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail," said Emma Jones, the founder of Enterprise Nation, which supports more than 90,000 of Britain's small businesses.

"This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time, while enabling customers to discover new brands on their local high streets," she said. 

Amazon states that in 2000, 3 percent of physical gross merchandise sales on Amazon came from third-party businesses. By 2018 this increased to 58 percent, following years of heavy investment in technology, infrastructure and selling tools to help them grow their business.

It claims that tens of thousands of UK-based small businesses now sell their products on Amazon's global sites, helping to support more than 80,000 UK jobs and achieving 2.5 billion pounds in export sales in 2018 alone.

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