September 10, 2021
Amazon plans to open two “Just Walk Out” Whole Foods stores in 2022, in Washington D.C. and Sherman Oaks, California, leveraging the same technology used in its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores. The company also offers the technology for sale to other retailers. This marks the first time that Amazon is using its cashierless technology at the 500-store Whole Foods, which it bought in 2017. Shoppers enter and leave the store by scanning a QR code in Amazon or Whole Foods apps and motion sensors track their shopping choices.
CNN reports that, “the technology is only available to customers with Amazon accounts, and shoppers without them will pay using self-checkout stations.” Labor advocates are concerned that the technology will take away cashier jobs; “Amazon said that the two stores will employ a number of workers ‘comparable’ to existing Whole Foods locations of similar sizes but did not give exact numbers.”
Since acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon has offered discounts there to Amazon Prime members, lowered prices and sped up home delivery. But the grocery chain “has lagged Amazon’s booming online retail operation, with sales at its physical stores, which are mainly comprised of Whole Foods locations, dropp[ing] 0.18 percent in 2019 from the year prior and then 5.6 percent in 2020 as more shoppers ordered online in the pandemic.”
The Verge reports that customers who are not Amazon Prime members have the “option of paying at a traditional self-checkout or customer service booth” at one of the new cashierless stores. It notes that “Just Walk Out originally debuted in small Amazon Go convenience stores, before the company scaled it up to work in bigger and bigger grocery stores.”
Amazon reveals that, in addition to a Whole Foods or Amazon app QR code, shoppers can “insert a credit or debit card linked to their Amazon account, or scan their palm using the company’s Amazon One technology (which it has already tested in Whole Foods locations as a way of speeding up the checkout process).”
Amazon details its launch of the two new cashierless stores here.