Amazon Will Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores With Cameras Tracking Shoppers’ Movements

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Chicago - Circa May 2021: Whole Foods Market. Amazon is expanding Whole Foods delivery in different US states.

Ailan Evans on September 8, 2021

Amazon is set to open two Whole Foods stores in 2022 without anyone manning the cash registers, the company announced Wednesday.

Just Walk Out uses dozens of depth-sensing cameras to identify a shopper’s general profile and track them as they move around the store, using sensors to track which items the shopper takes off the shelves. The technology automatically adds items selected off shelves to the shopper’s virtual cart, and charges shoppers for the items when they leave the store.

In these upcoming Whole Foods Market locations, we expanded our computer vision algorithms to support all of the Whole Foods Market selection people have come to love with the added benefits of Just Walk Out technology. For example, customers at these stores will be able to shop stations with self-service fresh-squeezed orange juice and mochi ice cream, while still shopping with the Just Walk Out experience and without adjusting any shopping habits. We also integrated with Whole Foods Market’s checkout and payment processing systems to accommodate customers who want to either shop with Just Walk Out technology or via the store’s self-checkout lanes.

Amazon Press Release

Just Walk Out was first unveiled in Amazon Go grocery and convenience stores in 2018.

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“We launched the technology first in Amazon Go several years ago and, since then, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from customers who love being able to quickly and easily shop and skip the checkout line,” Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology, said in the press release.

Just Walk Out technology is made possible by a combination of computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning—similar to what you’d find in a self-driving car.

At these two Whole Foods Market stores with Just Walk Out Shopping, customers will be greeted by a Team Member at the store’s entry gates and can then choose if they want to shop using Just Walk Out technology or the self-checkout lanes. No matter how they decide to shop, Whole Foods Market Team Members will be available throughout the store to assist customers and offer expertise in every department.

Anyone will be able to shop these stores using self-checkout, but customers who want to skip the checkout line with Just Walk Out Shopping can enter in three ways: by scanning the QR code in the Whole Foods Market or Amazon app, hovering their palm using Amazon One, or inserting a credit or debit card linked to their Amazon account. Customers who want to use cash, prepaid cards, Whole Foods Market gift cards, EBT, or eWic can use the self-checkout lanes. Once inside, customers will shop like normal and at the end of their trip, they simply scan or insert their entry method again to exit. After customers leave the store, those who use the Just Walk Out experience will receive a digital receipt, which will be available in the Whole Foods Market app.

Amazon Press Release

Amazon said the stores would employ the same number of workers as before, but reassign them to roles supporting customers in their shopping experiences. Customers can also still use self-checkout if they prefer.

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The company acknowledged data and privacy concerns, and said it would abide by its long-standing policies on personal information.

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