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No more “walking out” to Amazon Grocery.The new bet is the smart shopping cart


London’s first Amazon Fresh grocery store opens in 2021.The company is replacing its “Just Walk Out” technology in US stores with smart shopping carts, but keeping it in the UK

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London’s first Amazon Fresh grocery store opens in 2021.The company is replacing its “Just Walk Out” technology in US stores with smart shopping carts, but keeping it in the UK

Lionel/Getty Images

Just Walk Out is a member of the pantheon of amazing Amazon technologies: early shoppers simply marveled at the concept of grabbing something from a grocery store shelf and walking away, with cameras tracking and calculating the final Receipt.

Amazon is counting on this to propel its booming grocery business beyond its competitors and transform the entire industry in the process.

It is Pulling this technology out of Amazon Fresh stores in the US(It stayed in the UK.) Many experts wonder why it took so long: The experiment apparently failed to spread widely. The “just walk out” revolution hasn’t arrived at Amazon’s own Whole Foods, let alone the industry as a whole.

It’s a significant admission of failure, although the company certainly doesn’t embrace the term. The technology will continue to be used in Amazon Go convenience stores and dozens of other smaller stores in airports, arenas, amusement parks and hospitals.

But Amazon’s cashier-less grocery ambitions are only changing, even as the retailer scales back efforts to automate the entire supermarket experience. It is now believed that smart shopping carts can still change the way we buy food.

“It was a failure; however, let’s not forget that Amazon’s success was built on failure,” said Guru Hariharan, CEO of CommerceIQ and a former Amazon manager. “That’s the irony of it. .”

Technology Hasn’t Helped Amazon Win the Grocery Race Yet

Grocery is a multi-billion dollar market that requires physical stores and has long Amazon’s final frontier.

Retailer entered the game late, opening Amazon Go 2016 mini supermarketbuy Whole Foods Market 2017 and launches Amazon Fresh Grocery stores in 2020There are now more than 40 fresh food stores, and only more than half of them use the “direct go-out” technology.

This miracle did not attract crowds. Often say They are tired of passing through entry gates and being tracked by cameras and sensors everywhere. Amazon says people also want to see an instant tally of prices and discounts while they’re shopping, rather than after they leave.

The technology is also expensive and complex. It turns out that equipping every nook and cranny of a big-box store with intelligent computer vision is unreasonable. And it still requires some human input, people behind the scenes helping the machine learn to interpret the film and clarify uncertainty.

“Consumer expectations for accuracy on this are incredibly high. Is it 100 percent accurate, 100 percent accurate? If not, it starts to cause consumer trust issues,” Hariharan said.

Enter smart shopping cart

Smart shopping carts offer Amazon a technology solution for downsizing.

The company has been overhauling Amazon Fresh in recent years, lay off workers In stores, close some stores and renovate others.It also changes the design of intelligence sprint carits technical complexity is astounding.

Now, this shopping cart is essentially a self-checkout station on wheels. Shoppers can hold products up to a built-in scanner, a scale can weigh the product, and a touch screen can display instant updates on receipts.

Amazon has rolled out Dash shopping carts to a handful of Whole Foods stores, but has not said when or if they will become widespread. The high-tech shopping carts will face competition from several smaller companies offering smart shopping carts.

Amazon could potentially sell its checkout-less shopping carts to a number of retailers, including rival grocers. Hariharan saw a huge opportunity for marketing on the shopping cart screen, and advertising became one of Amazon’s fastest-growing businesses.

Of course, it all depends on shoppers’ learning curve for new technologies, said Uttara Ananthakrishnan, who teaches digital transformation in the grocery industry at Carnegie Mellon University.

Recently, retailers Rethink their self-checkout approach Because shoppers are prone to theft and mistakes. Anantakrishnan said grocery stores are a particularly difficult place to introduce new technology.

“There are so many different products. Not everything has code. There are a lot of trade-offs,” she said. “Then you put the responsibility on the customer, and a lot of people don’t like that.”

Editor’s Note: Amazon is one of NPR’s financial backers.



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