Published on: February 24, 2022
Amazon-owned Whole Foods has opened its first store using the Just-Walk-Out technology that the company pioneered with its Amazon Go stores almost a half-dozen years ago.
The 21,500 square foot store, in the Glover Park neighborhood in Washington, DC (just north of Georgetown), is a little smaller that the 25,000 square foot Amazon Fresh unit that uses the technology that was opened last year, and much bigger than the Amazon Go stores, which tend to be smaller than 2,500 square feet in size.
Axios writes that the new Whole Foods "demonstrates how much autonomous shopping has improved."
One apparent difference between the new store and the original Amazon Go stores is that in the original iteration, one had to have the Amazon Go app to enter the store, at which point you could take any product, put it in your pocket or a bag, and then leave the store, with a receipt delivered to your smart phone shortly thereafter; in the Whole Foods store, there are more options: Axios writes that customers "can scan a QR code from their Amazon or Whole Foods app, their palm, or an Amazon-linked credit or debit card."
The technology is driven by "cameras, sensors and software similar to self-driving cars to track people and products throughout the store."
Shoppers also can avail themselves of more traditional "self-checkout lanes, where cash, gift cards and supplemental nutrition program benefits are accepted," Axios writes.
Business Insider notes that "Amazon has attempted to meld its own technology with the grocery industry for years … In 2021, Insider reviewed internal documents revealing that the online giant predicted expenses around 'Just Walk Out' to drop 75% between 2020 and 2023. Currently, Amazon also runs 'Just Walk Out' technology at select Hudson stores, Resorts World Las Vegas, and the TD Garden area in Boston.
"Whole Foods also has plans to open a second store with 'Just Walk Out' technology in Sherman Oaks, California. The California store is also slated to open in 2022."
- KC's View:
I've been saying it here for some time … that the checkout-free store trend seems to be gaining momentum, as the technology becomes less expensive and companies (not just Amazon) figure out ways to install the systems into existing stores.
I believe - and have since I got an advance peek at the very first Amazon Go store in Seattle before it opened to the public - that checkout-free technology eventually will be as ubiquitous in stores as scanning is today.
Think about it. For the most part, self-checkout systems have not changed all that much since they were introduced - maybe the software and hardware is a little better, but that haven't been any sort of quantum leaps. Checkout-free represents precisely the kind of advance that we've been missing - at a certain point, it will get to the point that installing a checkout-free system won't be all that more expensive (if at all) than installing a bank of traditional checkouts plus some self-checkout lanes.
And that's when traction really will be achieved. And suddenly, traditional checkouts could go the way of toll booths.