Amazon is set to open its first Amazon Fresh supermarket with the “Just Walk Out” cashierless technology pioneered in its smaller Amazon Go convenience stores.
Plans call for a 25,000-square-foot Amazon Fresh store to open on Thursday, June 17, at The Marketplace at Factoria shopping center in Bellevue, Wash. The location, the 14th Amazon Fresh store, marks the debut of Just Walk Out functionality in a full-size grocery store, Seattle-based Amazon noted.
The Just Walk Out system uses overhead computer-vision cameras, weight sensors and deep-learning technology to detect merchandise that shoppers take from or return to shelves and track items selected in a virtual cart. At the store’s automated entry gates, customers are prompted to select Just Walk Out shopping or use the traditional checkout lanes. Those choosing Just Walk Out enter the store by scanning the QR code in the Amazon mobile app, scanning their palm on the Amazon One palm signature device, or inserting a credit/debit card linked to their Amazon account. When shoppers exit the store, using the same method for entry, the Just Walk Out technology automatically debits their Amazon account for the items they take and then sends a receipt to the app.
Customers who want to use conventional checkout lanes enter the store through the designated gates and use one of the staffed checkout lanes to pay with cash, credit or debit card, Amazon One or an in-store code in the Amazon app. Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also can use their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards to pay. Checkout lane users will get a paper receipt, and recognized Amazon customers will receive a digital receipt as well.
Previously, Amazon only offered Just Walk Out at its Amazon Go and Amazon Go Grocery stores in the United States and the Amazon Fresh store in West London. Amazon Go now has 22 locations (with five temporarily closed) in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle that range in size from 1,200 to 2,700 square feet. The 10,000-square-foot Amazon Go Grocery format is being phased out, with the Redmond, Wash., location now closed and the Seattle location being converted to the Amazon Fresh banner.
“Customers have enjoyed the effortless shopping experience enabled by our Just Walk Out technology at our Amazon Go, Amazon Go Grocery, Amazon Fresh stores in the U.K., and third-party retailer stores. The feedback has been fantastic, with customers noting that skipping the checkout allows them to save time and reduce contact in stores,” Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon, said in a statement. “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. I’m thrilled it’ll 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.”
The first Amazon Fresh, in Woodland Hills, Calif., made its debut in late August 2020. Since then, Amazon has opened 13 stores in California (eight locations), Illinois (four locations) and Virginia (one location). The 30,000-square-foot Virginia store opened May 27 in Franconia, marking Amazon Fresh’s entry into a third state.
Amazon Fresh stores emphasize fresh and prepared foods, affordable prices and a mix of national, local and private-label brands, including Amazon-exclusive brands. The format also focuses on convenience. Besides Just Walk Out, customers are offered an omnichannel shopping experience, including online grocery pickup and delivery and pickup/returns of Amazon.com orders, and Alexa stations — featuring Amazon’s virtual assistant — help customers manage shopping lists and navigate the store’s aisles. The U.S. Amazon Fresh stores also offer the multifunction Amazon Dash Cart smart shopping cart, which allows users to find items, track purchases and skip the checkout line.
In March, Bloomberg reported that at least 28 more Amazon Fresh stores are in the works “from Philadelphia to the Sacramento suburbs.” At the time, Amazon had only confirmed four upcoming U.S. locations, two apiece in New Jersey and Washington state. Then, in an April 29 conference call on Amazon’s fiscal 2021 first-quarter results, Director of Investor Relations David Fildes said additional Amazon Fresh stores are slated for Southern California, Illinois, New Jersey and the Seattle area.
“We’ve received incredible feedback from customers at our Amazon Fresh stores in California, Illinois and Virginia about our low prices and broad grocery selection, as well as innovations to make shopping simpler and more convenient, like free grocery delivery and pickup for Prime members, Amazon.com returns capabilities, and Alexa shopping. Customers love the convenience, selection and value offered by Amazon Fresh, and now customers in Bellevue will get to experience the added convenience of Just Walk Out shopping in our newest Amazon Fresh store,” commented Jeff Helbling, vice president of Amazon Fresh Stores. “Our hundreds of store employees have been working hard to get the store ready, and we’re eager to hear feedback from customers as we open our doors to the Bellevue community in the coming days.”