Amazon Begins Testing Just Walk Out at Grocery Stores

Gated turnstiles and ceiling-mounted cameras were spotted in planning documents for a new 35,000 square foot store.

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Need to Know

  • Gated turnstiles and hardware to contain ceiling-mounted cameras, both hallmarks of Amazon’s Just Walk Out tech, appear in planning documents for a Brookfield, Connecticut, Amazon Fresh store.
  • Just Walk Out requires shoppers to scan their smartphone on entry; they can then simply exit the store with their purchases when they’re finished shopping, without interacting with a cashier or self-checkout.
  • Amazon Fresh stores currently use smart Dash Carts, which let customers check out without waiting in line.

Analysis

Amazon may be set to launch its Just Walk Out technology at an Amazon Fresh store in Connecticut.

Planning documents for the in-construction grocery store include plans for gated turnstiles, hardware for ceiling-mounted cameras, as well as an electronic shelving system, the latter of which Amazon has already used in its Fresh and cashierless Amazon Go convenience stores.

Just Walk Out technology requires customers to scan their smartphone at the aforementioned gated turnstiles. They’re then tracked by shelf sensors, and cameras while they shop, and are charged for their order when they exit the store — no checkout process required. Existing Amazon Fresh stores are equipped with Dash Carts: smart shopping carts that track and weigh purchases, and allow customers to avoid the checkout process. It’s unclear whether the new Brookfield store will employ Dash Carts.

Amazon has not confirmed whether its Bloomfield store will use Just Walk Out technology. However, earlier this week, a spokesperson told Bloomberg that the technology is being tested at a Naperville, Illinois, Amazon Fresh store “for future Just Walk Out stores.” Just Walk Out technology is not available to the public at the Naperville store.

Amazon opened its first Fresh grocery store in Los Angeles in September, and has since opened a dozen Fresh stores across the US. Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that Amazon has at least 28 Amazon Fresh grocery stores in the works, suggesting that the retail giant is quietly rolling out a national grocery store chain. Amazon already owns Whole Foods, which it purchased in for $13.4 billion in 2018.

The retailer has not yet equipped any of its stores with Just Walk Out technology, so the Brookfield store could represent a significant leap forward for the company in implementing the tech: while smaller retail locations, such as Hudson convenience stores, have licensed Just Walk Out, the Brookfield Fresh location is roughly 35,000 square feet in size — a huge amount of space for Amazon to track with its cameras and sensors.

The news that Amazon may be primed to launch Just Walk Out at its own grocery stores comes just days after the retail giant announced it would be bringing its palm-scanning payment tech, Amazon One, to Whole Foods stores. Amazon One, which Amazon announced in September, is—like Just Walk Out—also available to be licensed to third-party retailers.

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