In a first for Amazon, the company is bringing its autonomous checkout technology to the supermarket arena.
To date, Amazon's revolutionary "Just Walk Out" technology has been available only in the company's convenience and small-format grocery stores. But that will change on June 17, when the ommnichannel giant opens its 14th Amazon Fresh store, a 25,000-sq.-ft. location in Bellevue, Wash. It will be the first time that the technology has been available in a full-size U.S. supermarket.
The Just Walk Out technology leverages a combination of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning that enables shoppers to shop the store, pick out they want and skip the checkout when they’re done. Anyone shopping at the new Amazon Fresh store can take advantage of the technology, which connects to their Amazon account or credit card. Customers are prompted at the store’s entry gates to choose if they want to use Just Walk Out shopping or the traditional checkout lanes.
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“Bringing Just Walk Out technology to a full-size grocery space with the Amazon Fresh store in Bellevue showcases the technology’s continued ability to scale and adapt to new environments and selection," said Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s VP of physical retail and technology. I’m thrilled it will help even more customers enjoy an easier and faster way to shop and can’t wait to get their feedback on this latest Just Walk Out offering.”
Kumar added that that the feedback regarding Just Walk Out has been "fantastic, with customers noting that skipping the checkout allows them to save time and reduce contact in stores."
Customers who opt for Just Walk Out shopping can enter the store in three ways: They can scan the QR code in their Amazon app, use Amazon One palm-scanning technology, or insert a credit or debit card linked to their Amazon account. Each option will open the Just Walk Out gates.
Once inside the store, customers can shop like normal. Anything they take off the shelf is automatically added to their virtual cart, and anything they put back on the shelf comes out of their virtual cart. At the end of their trip, customers shopping with the Just Walk Out experience scan or insert their entry method again to exit.
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Customers who want a traditional shopping experience can enter the store through the designated gates and use one of the staffed checkout lanes. Store associates are available to assist customers regardless of which shopping method they choose.
One feature found in other Amazon Fresh stores that will not be available in the Bellevue location is the Amazon Dash Cart, which leverages a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items placed in it and enable automatic checkout. The Just Walk Out option will replace Dash Cart as a means of instant checkout.
First introduced in 2018 in the Amazon Go convenience-store banner (which now has at least 25 locations), Just Walk Out was also featured in Amazon's small-format grocery store, Amazon Go Grocery, which launched in February 2020. (The Go Grocery banner is being eliminated, with the store in Seattle's Capitol Hill area being rebranded as Amazon Fresh and the other, in Redmond, Wash., shuttered.)
The first Amazon Fresh store opened in August 2020. Currently, the company operates eight Amazon Fresh stores in California, four in Illinois, and one in Virginia serving the greater Washington, D.C., area. More locations are reportedly in the works.
Amazon is also piloting other alternative payment options. Beginning June 15, Amazon One palm-based payment is also now available as an option at the Amazon Books store in Legacy Place in Dedham, Mass., making the Greater Boston area the newest region to offer Amazon One. Amazon One will also be coming soon to additional select Amazon store locations in Greater Boston and New Jersey.
For more on the expansion of Just Walk Out, click here to read a Q&A that Amazon posted on its blog.
This story originally appeared on Chain Store Age.