Amazon.co.uk launched in the UK in 1998 to make customers’ lives easier with great value, selection and convenience of its most popular products. Since then, our customer obsession continues to be the driving force behind some of our top innovations that support our communities, small businesses and employees.
Amazon is one of the UK’s top 10 private sector employers with around 75,000 people across the UK who help to innovate on behalf of customers every day. This includes more than 2,700 employees at our development centres across the UK including Cambridge, Edinburgh, London and Swansea who work on projects such as Prime Video, Alexa and personalised shopping experience on our online stores.
There are now more than 100,000 UK-based small and medium-sized sellers (SMEs) who sell their products in Amazon’s stores across the world. Last year half of these businesses sold to customers outside of the UK, recording over £3.3 billion in export sales.
Read more below and explore the interactive timeline for a snapshot of some of the most popular UK innovations over the past 25 years.
Obsessing on behalf of customers
Creating the best streaming experience for customers: Amazon Prime Video’s engineering and applied science team based in London developed the cross-platform distribution solution which makes it possible for customers to watch Prime Video on over one billion devices worldwide including TV, tablets and mobile.
Pushing the state-of-the-art in AI and voice assistants: The Cambridge development centre opened in 2017 and includes Amazon Alexa Knowledge team who use a novel machine learning approach to enable Alexa’s speech quality, different speaking styles, and varied emotions.
Redefining in-store shopping: Amazon Fresh grocery stores arrived in the UK in 2021, the first convenience grocery store in the country to offer Just Walk Out (JWO) technology which is made possible with AI and Machine Learning technologies including computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning.
Tackling the skills shortage and inspiring future generations
Fulfilling career ambitions through adult education: In 2012, Amazon launched Career Choice, an programme which provides funding for adult education, offering to pre-pay 95% of tuition fees and reimburse employees for nationally recognised courses. So far, more than 100,000 participants have benefited from the opportunity to gain new skills and qualifications needed to pursue their career aspirations at Amazon or elsewhere.
A decade of providing opportunities through apprenticeships: This September, we celebrated a decade of our apprenticeship programme. With more than 1,600 apprentices currently taking part, we’re one of the largest and broadest apprenticeship schemes in the UK. To date, Amazon has offered 5,000 apprenticeships in the UK and includes 40 schemes including mechatronics, automation, software development and more. This is in addition to supporting over 350 SMEs to hire and upskill over 100 learners undertaking tech, engineering and IT related apprenticeships through levy transfer funds.
An inclusive, diverse global pipeline of new cloud talent: AWS re/Start first piloted in the UK in 2017 to help build and engage individuals who otherwise might not have had access to a career in cloud technology. It has since scaled to more than 180 cities across more than 60 countries. Another UK-pilot is AWS GetIT, a fully funded education programme and competition designed to inspire 12–14-year-old students, especially girls, to consider a future in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
Inspiring the next generation of engineers: Amazon Future Engineer launched in 2019, a childhood-to-career programme to increase access to computer science education for students from underserved and underrepresented communities
Delivering the future
Transforming logistics with robotics: In 2016, our first robotics arrived at our Dunstable and Doncaster fulfilment centers (FCs). Our new Stockton FC will feature three floors of Amazon Robotics technology to ensure the most modern, engaging and safe environment for employees.
Investing in clean energy: Amazon is on a path to powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. In 2022, 90% of electricity consumed by Amazon was powered by renewable energy sources, thanks to more than 400 wind and solar projects
around the world, and is the largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the UK and worldwide. Amazon has enabled five, utility-scale UK renewable energy projects. The first commissioned wind project, Amazon Wind Farm Scotland – Beinn an Tuirc 3 in Scotland, will soon be followed by two in Kennoxhead and another in Moray West Wind Farm, the largest corporate commitment to a renewable energy project in the UK to date; together with a site in Ballykeel in Northern Ireland.
Reducing carbon emissions with transport electrification: We introduced EVs in 2020 and added eHGVs, e-cargo bikes and walkers in 2022, to make millions of deliveries a year, alleviating traffic congestion and improving air quality in UK cities including Glasgow, London and Manchester. We are continuing to invest more than £300M in transport decarbonisation in the UK in coming years.
Read more about how Amazon supports innovation across the UK economy.