Amazon opens largest cashless grocery store
Amazon’s long-awaited Fresh grocery store in Bellevue, Wash. Opened to crowds on Thursday – and a twist.
The company revealed in a surprise announcement earlier this week that the store is the company’s first full-size fresh grocery store equipped with cashier-less technology, powered by an extensive array of motion-sensitive ceiling cameras and sensors that track what items are removed from the shelves. then automatically bill customers’ Amazon accounts when they check out.
Nationally, Amazon operates more than a dozen Fresh stores, where groceries are priced below the higher-end Whole Foods chain, which Amazon acquired in 2017.
While other Fresh stores have their own share of space-age technology – including smart shopping carts that total their content and send customers a digital invoice – the new location in the Factoria neighborhood of Bellevue is the first Fresh store to be equipped with Amazon’s cashierless system. payment capabilities, which Amazon calls “just walk out” technology. (Amazon Fresh is also the name of the company’s grocery delivery service.)
“The first time you do it, it feels like you’re walking away with something,” said customer Celeste Cooper, who left her Seattle home to see the new store on the day it opens.
Cooper said she was already using cashier-less technology at the Amazon Go convenience store near her home. “It takes a while to get used to it, but now I can’t stand the lines anywhere else.”
Cooper also said she was “impressed” by the scale of the store.
The 25,000-square-foot grocery store, a former Safeway, is Amazon’s largest application of its “just walk out” technology. The company has historically struggled to use technology in formats larger than a convenience store, according to a Bloomberg report, due to the technical complexity of tracking large numbers of buyers in a larger space.
But rather than relying exclusively on the cashier-less checkout, the Factoria Fresh store has a hybrid model, according to Amazon spokeswoman Rachel Hass. Customers can choose to “just go out” or check in with human cashiers – who, unlike early iterations of Amazon Go stores, take cash. The Factoria store is Amazon’s first attempt at such a hybrid model.
Amazon’s vast array of grocery stores has recently undergone changes and expanded during the pandemic. The company announced last month that it was abandoning its Amazon Go Grocery brand for large grocery stores with cashier-less technology.
Amazon has also introduced its cashierless technology in increasingly larger formats, according to recent media reports. Bloomberg reported in April that Amazon was installing overhead cameras at an under construction grocery store in Connecticut and that a vacant storefront in Ballard, Wash., Also bears signs of an Amazon Fresh location with no cashier ahead.
Amid concerns from grocery unions that Amazon’s cashier-less technology could hurt jobs in grocery stores, the company had sought to step up its hiring efforts for the Factoria store and another Fresh grocery store under construction. in the Central District of Seattle. The company announced this year that it plans to hire hundreds of people to staff the new stores.
The Factoria store “has hundreds of employees,” Hass said in an email. “This number is similar to our other Amazon Fresh stores and comparable to other large grocery stores.”
A slew of cameras everywhere hang from the ceiling on June 17 at the premier Amazon Fresh in Washington on opening day, the only store with both cashierless technology mixed with a checkout option in Bellevue. In addition to cameras, purchases are monitored by weight sensors on the shelves.
Customers check in with an app or credit card on June 17 at the premier Amazon Fresh in Washington, and the only one with both cashier-less technology mixed with cashiers, on opening day at Bellevue. These buyers will not have to go to a checkout.