First came Amazon Fresh online grocery shopping. Now the retail giant is developing its bricks and mortar presence. After experiencing great success in the UK and US retail markets, Amazon announced it will open its latest US grocery store in Bellevue, Washington.
For the first time, customers won’t have to wait in line for the checkout, as the company offers all of the usual groceries that consumers would expect to see in conventional grocery stores with the added benefit of speed and convenience.
Entering The Bricks and Mortar Retail Market
The Amazon Fresh brand opened its first store back in August 2020, but since then, it has expanded to operate 13 stores across the United States, including California, Illinois, and Virginia. The retailer continues to impress customers with ‘e-commerce like’ pricing, as it continues to offer consumer products at competitive rates.
Shoppers at the new store in Bellevue will be able to access the store from 7 am to 10 pm, seven days a week. But this ‘smart store’ differentiates itself from the rest. Amazon will operate the Bellevue store by implementing its ‘Just Walk Out’ technology, which the company has tried and tested to receive positive results:
- “Fast in and out, and no waiting in lines. Checking out with my palm was super cool. Seemed high tech and traditional at the same time.”
- “The assortment was great. The staff was friendly. I didn’t even think of technology; I just shopped.”
- “Everything was set up intuitively, and the experience was so effortless. No lines, no scanning items—almost like magic.”
- “Super-easy shopping experience. Inviting, colourful space. [A number] of unique products (Duke's mayo, Aplenty chips). Employees were also very friendly.”
How Does ‘Just Walk Out’ Technology Work?
The Just Walk Out technology incorporates computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning to provide customers with a convenient way to shop. The system works in conjunction with the widely-used Amazon app, allowing customers to come into the store, pick up their groceries, and exit the store without having to scan the goods on the way out. Upon exiting the store, the value of the goods is automatically charged to the customer’s payment card via the Amazon app.
There are three ways that customers can log their entrance and enter the gates at the new store. They can scan a QR code in their Amazon app, use Amazon One - a contactless palm scanner - to scan their palm upon entry, or by inserting their payment card linked to their Amazon account. While shopping, the store will record any items they pick up while also recording items that are returned to the shelves. This updates the shopper’s virtual cart, similar to the online process.
Dilip Kumar, Vice President of Physical Retail and Technology at Amazon, commented on the success of this retail technology so far. “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 UK, 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,” Kumar Says.
Kumar also says, “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.”
As digital shopping is taking over the retail industry, it’s easy to forget the shoppers who are not as invested in technology. Customers who do not wish to use the Just Walk Out system can make use of a traditional checkout in the store. Ultimately the Amazon wants the store to be used by everyone, including those who wish to pay with cash.