Amazon Fresh deepens its focus on Just Walk Out technology - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Monday, April 11, 2022

Amazon Fresh deepens its focus on Just Walk Out technology


Dive Brief:

  • Amazon announced on Thursday that it has opened a new Fresh grocery store in greater Washington, D.C., equipped with its Just Walk Out checkout-free technology. The company also said it is developing three additional Fresh locations in the area, which a company spokesperson said will all have the computer vision-based system as well.
  • The new store, in Fairfax, Virginia, and the upcoming locations join the retailer's three other Fresh stores that have opened so far this year. Those stores, which are in Moorpark, California; Naperville, Illinois; and Seattle, all also have Just Walk Out, the spokesperson confirmed. 
  • Amazon is pressing forward with its cashierless tech-equipped supermarket operations in the wake of its recent decision to close retail locations that carried books, electronics and other non-grocery products.

Dive Insight:

Until this year, most of the grocery stores Amazon Fresh has opened have offered the company's Dash Cart as a high-tech alternative to conventional checkout stations. But that focus is increasingly shifting toward the Just Walk Out system, suggesting Amazon sees the technology as key to its budding grocery brand going forward.

Amazon opened its first Fresh store with Just Walk Out technology in Bellevue, Washington, last June, and has since brought the service to other locations in the chain. The Fairfax store is the company's first full-size store on the East Coast to incorporate the futuristic checkout system, according to a LinkedIn post by a real estate executive with Amazon Fresh.

Meanwhile, the first Just Walk Out-equipped Whole Foods Market opened in February in the capital city's Glover Park section. The company also uses the technology in its chain of Go convenience stores.

Amazon's Just Walk Out system uses ceiling-mounted cameras and artificial intelligence to track shoppers' selections as they walk around the store and automatically charges them when they exit.

A number of startups have developed checkout-free systems similar to Amazon's and have been rolling out the technology with retailers. Amazon also offers Just Walk Out to other retailers.

Amazon opened its first Amazon Fresh store near the nation's capital last May, when it began serving customers at a location in Franconia, Virginia, after debuting the banner in September 2020 in Woodland Hills, California. Now, Amazon has Fresh locations in Washington's Logan Circle neighborhood and Chevy Chase, Maryland, among the 27 grocery stores it currently operates under the brand.

At 30,000 square feet, the newly opened store in Fairfax, Virginia, is four times as large as the Amazon Fresh store in Logan Circle. It's also 8,500 square feet larger than the Whole Foods in Glover Park with the checkout-free technology.

Amazon declined to indicate when it plans to open the three Washington-area stores, which will occupy sites in Lorton, Manassas and Arlington, Virginia, but said it has started hiring hundreds of workers to fill full and part-time positions in the stores with starting wages ranging from $15.50 to $17.50 per hour, depending on the role and shift. 

Jeff Wells contributed reporting to this story.


Sam Silverstein, Khareem Sudlow