Will Just Walk Out tech work for Whole Foods?
Two new Whole Foods Market stores scheduled to open next year will be set up with Amazon.com’s Just Walk Out technology to enable customers to shop without having to stop at a physical checkout stand.
The stores — one in Washington, D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood and the other in Sherman Oaks, CA — represent the latest test of the technology installed in a larger store environment. Amazon first deployed the system in its Amazon Go convenience format before including it in its newer Amazon Fresh grocery stores.
Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s vice president, physical retail and technology, writing in a company blog said that the technology has been adapted for the upcoming Whole Foods locations. This, he wrote, included expanding its “computer vision algorithms to support all of the Whole Foods Market selection people have come to love.” He provided examples of customers buying from stations inside the stores, such as self-service fresh-squeezed orange juice and mochi ice cream. He added that, “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.”
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said the use of the technology will offer another way for these stores to “surprise and delight” its customers. That experience, he said in a statement, will mean that customers at the two stores “will be able to shop for fresh, thoughtfully sourced products that all meet our unparalleled quality standards, receive exceptional service from our team members throughout their shopping trip, and save time by skipping the checkout line.”
Some have suggested the shopping experience in Whole Foods stores has deteriorated as a greater percentage of its sales are now made online for pickup or delivery. Customers often find themselves shopping next to the chain’s own shoppers who are picking orders for those placing orders online. The ratio of orders placed for pickup vs. delivery may increase going forward should Whole Foods expand upon a test launched on Aug. 30 that requires Prime members in Boston, Chicago, Manchester, NH, Portland, ME, and Providence, RI, to pay $9.95 to have their grocery orders delivered.
Another question arising from the deployment of the Just Walk Out technology at Whole Foods is whether the news is a clear indication that the expense of fitting it for physical retail makes it practical in the development of new stores but unfeasible in existing locations.
- Whole Foods Market to launch Just Walk Out technology at two locations – Amazon.com
- Amazon scales its Just Walk Out tech for a full-size grocery store – RetailWire
- Prime members will have to pay for grocery deliveries from Whole Foods – RetailWire
- Whole Foods gets a lot right and wrong – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the potential and limitations of Amazon’s Just Walk Out and similar technologies to provide cashierless experiences in stores? What do you think is the most effective means for eliminating the checkout pain point for customers?