Amazon Expands Cashierless Technology in Whole Foods Stores

Amazon Tests Cashierless Checkout on a Larger Scale

Amazon (AMZN) plans to bring its cashierless checkout technology to two new Whole Foods stores slated to open next year. Shoppers in Washington, D.C. and Sherman Oaks, California, will be able to skip the checkout line when shopping for produce and other grocery items.

The technology, which Amazon calls “Just Walk Out,” is being deployed across a growing number of the ecommerce giant’s physical stores including its Fresh grocery stores and Go convenience stores. Deploying its technology in Whole Foods will give Amazon an advantage over startups that have developed similar checkout systems but struggled to get larger retailers to embrace the changes required for the technology to work.

How Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” Technology Works

With Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, customers scan an app when they enter and exit the store and are then able to bypass the checkout line. Amazon has cameras and sensors deployed throughout the store that track the items shoppers choose and take home.

Shoppers at the two new Whole Foods stores will have the option to scan an app, insert a credit or debit card linked to their Amazon account, or use Amazon’s palm scanning payment system, Amazon One. In April, Amazon rolled out the new payment system in a Whole Foods in Seattle. It is currently deploying the technology in other stores. Customers can also use a self-checkout counter or visit the customer service booth to check out.

Labor Unions May Cry Foul

Amazon’s expansion of its cashierless technology is expected to raise concerns for labor unions, which have warned that the technology will eventually replace cashiers. Amazon has said this is not true, arguing that the technology simply frees workers to perform other tasks in the stores. The two new stores will employ the same number of people as Whole Foods stores of similar size that do not have the new technology.

Amazon has been slowly and methodically rolling out its cashierless technology. Now, it is preparing to test the system on a larger scale. It will be interesting to see how consumers and other retailers respond.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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