Amazon will open its first full-size Fresh grocery store in the US using its Just Walk Out technology per Engadget. This is the first time the retail giant has deployed its computer vision, sensor fusion, smart-shelves, and deep learning solutions in a larger store space. Just Walk Out has previously only been demoed in smaller Amazon Go shops in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle. The new Fresh location in Bellevue, Washington is a full-size grocery (typically 25,000-45,000 square feet) and the largest retail space that will run on Amazon’s cashierless tech.
Here’s how it works: The Fresh grocery will allow buyers to scan QR codes, use Amazon One to read their palms, or insert their credit or debit cards associated with their Amazon accounts. Earlier Amazon Go stores didn’t allow shoppers to enter without an app installed on their devices, and offering various ways to pay could now ease more consumers in.
Amazon has piloted various retail automation solutions in the US and the UK, but they were much smaller-scale endeavors. Earlier this year, Amazon opened a semiautonomous, checkout-free grocery store in London’s Ealing borough with Just Walk Out tech. A combination of AI sensors and cameras monitor what customers remove from store shelves, and the tech automatically bills their linked credit card once they exit the store without ever interacting with a cashier—a desirable option during the pandemic. Self-checkout technology is growing in importance, but adoption has been slow or limited to a few in-store terminals.
The full-size Fresh store announcement comes just as Amazon is offers Just Walk Out tto other retailers. Being able to provide retail automation from small airport kiosks to full-size grocery stores puts Amazon at a competitive advantage. Amazon also recently partnered with airport retailer Hudson to roll out a contactless Hudson Nonstop store at the Dallas Love Field Airport, as well as the Chicago Midway International Airport.
However, retailers may worry about the data collection happening in their stores, and their shoppers will likely share the same worry. Amazon says its tech will only collect the data needed to provide shoppers with accurate receipts.
And the loss of retail jobs could weigh down merchants looking into automating store sales. Amazon maintains that Just Walk Out will simplify shift worker’s roles to more valuable activities such as stocking shelves and greeting customers.
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