June 15, 2021

Amazon.com is using its cashierless Just Walk Out (JWO) technology at a new full-size Amazon Fresh store in Bellevue, WA.

The use of technology represents “the first time” that it has been used in an environment where customers also have the option of paying for their purchases in the traditional way using cashiers to record their purchases.

Customers who want to checkout without stopping at a checkout have three options when entering the store. They can scan a QR code found in their Amazon app, scan their palm using Amazon One technology, or insert a credit or debit card linked to their Amazon account. Any of the three will open the JWO doors in the store.

Those who questioned the usefulness of JWO argued that the expense associated with its deployment – and other cost-increasing factors, such as structural challenges of installing video cameras and other hardware in ceilings – made it impossible for a department store environment.

Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s vice president for physical retail and technology, doesn’t appear to share the critics’ concerns. In one corporate blog, he reportedly said that the use of JWO in the Bellevue store “shows the continued ability of technology to evolve and adapt to new environments and selections.”

Amazon did not say whether any changes to the technology were needed to make it work efficiently in a store larger than its convenience format Fresh, previously known as Amazon Go.

Self-checkout technology continues to gain importance for retailers looking to solve a major problem for shoppers and reduce costs at the same time. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by a significant number of startups creating their own solutions to deliver non-stop payment experiences to in-store customers.

Customers who have used JWO seem quite optimistic about its use. Eighty-nine percent of shoppers who use technology at an Amazon store think it’s a gatekeeper. Fifty-four percent say they have a great experience and 35 percent rated it good, according to a Piplsay study.

Amazon believes the addition of the technology will provide customers with yet another reason to purchase its Fresh grocery format. The company has opened 13 locations since the concept launched in August last year.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Amazon is going to roll out Just Walk Out technology to all of its Fresh stores and maybe even Whole Foods? How long will it take before nonstop payment technology is widely available in U.S. retail stores?

Braintrust

“While I have no doubt that JWO will become widely available in the future, I believe that we are still years away from full scale deployment in the market. “

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