Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Why Amazon is ditching Just Walk Out checkouts at grocery stores

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Amazon is ditching its “Just Walk Out” technology – which allows customers to shop and leave the store without going to a register – for what it says is better technology at its Amazon Fresh stores. 

The change, announced Tuesday, only affects Amazon Fresh locations, the Seattle-based company’s grocery stores, and not Amazon Go, which are smaller convenience stores. It also does not impact the more than 130 third-party retailers that Amazon partners with for use of its “Just Walk Out” technology at such locations as airports, college stores and cafes, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to USA TODAY. 

The artificial intelligence technology, which sends customers their receipts after they’ve taken items off the shelves and left the store, will be replaced by smart carts, which allow customers to scan their items as they shop and see what they’re paying and saving on a screen, Amazon said. 

In an email, Amazon said it made the decision to cut the technology, which can be found in Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go stores, due to customer feedback. 

“We’ve invested a lot of time redesigning a number of our Amazon Fresh stores over the last year, offering a better overall shopping experience with more value, convenience, and selection, and so far we’ve seen positive results, with higher customer shopping satisfaction scores and increased purchasing,” Jessica Martin, Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement.

“We’ve also heard from customers that while they enjoyed the benefit of skipping the checkout line with Just Walk Out, they also wanted the ability to easily find nearby products and deals, view their receipt as they shop, and know how much money they saved while shopping throughout the store,” she said.

What Amazon Fresh stores will this affect?

There are over 40 Amazon Fresh stores in the U.S. – 27 of which have Just Walk Out technology and will transition to Amazon Dash Cart, according to the company. The rest already use Amazon Dash Cart, the retailer said.

The Just Walk Out technology will continue to be offered in Amazon Go stores, the smaller format Amazon Fresh stores in the U.K., as well as more and more third-party retailers. There are more than 130 third-party Just Walk Out technology locations in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada – with new locations launching monthly – including at travel retailers, sports stadiums, entertainment venues, conference centers, theme parks, convenience stores, hospitals, and college campuses, Amazon said,

How does the Amazon Dash Cart work?

Shoppers using the Amazon Dash Cart, a smart shopping cart, can scan the QR code on their Amazon app to begin browsing the store, said Amazon. The Dash Cart uses a combination of computer vision and sensor fusion to help identify what is placed in the cart, the retailer said. Shoppers grab an item, scan it on one of the Dash Cart cameras, and place it in the cart like they normally would, Amazon said.

Follow-up: Does Amazon’s cashless Just Walk Out technology rely on 1,000 workers in India?

When the shopper is done, there’s no need to go through the checkout line. Customers go through the Dash Cart lane and walk out.

Customers still have an option to check out with a cashier, or to use self-checkout lanes, Amazon said.

Betty Lin-Fisher is a consumer reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at blinfisher@USATODAY.com or follow her on X, Facebook, or Instagram @blinfisher. Sign up for our free The Daily Money newsletter, which will include consumer news on Fridays, here.

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