Amazon Pulls Plug on Cashierless System in US Grocery Stores


(Bloomberg) — Inc. is removing its cashierless Just Walk Out system from grocery stores, a retreat from an ambitious technology designed to let shoppers skip the line.

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Amazon will pull the system as it remodels existing Fresh grocery stores and won’t feature it in new locations that will start opening later this year, an Amazon spokesperson said.

Tony Hoggett, Amazon’s senior vice president of grocery stores, joined the company in 2022 and launched a far-reaching revamp of the grocery business, which has struggled to build market share in an industry dominated by the likes of Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co.

Amazon plans to rely more heavily on its Dash Cart, which lets shoppers scan items as they go. But the company has dialed back the complexity of the technology.

The carts initially used a set of cameras to automatically identify what shoppers had grabbed from the shelf. Newer versions stripped out some cameras, and shoppers are now asked to hold the item in front of a pair of scanners, which can read bar codes among other cues. Shoppers can also use a touchscreen to ring up merchandise, such as produce, that lacks bar codes.

The Information reported the scrapping of Just Walk Out technology earlier.

The system uses ceiling-mounted cameras and shelf sensors, backed by algorithms, to determine what a shopper took from a store. Customers are charged automatically upon exiting.

The company began developing the technology more than a decade ago, part of a push by Jeff Bezos, then chief executive officer, to develop a unique offering to accompany Amazon’s move into physical stores.

The technology debuted in 2018 with the opening of a convenience store in the lobby of Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. The company built dozens of Amazon Go branded convenience stores and later installed the cashierless system in Fresh Stores and a pair of Whole Foods Market locations.

The technology alienated some shoppers, who were put off by entry gates or the feeling that Amazon had turned a visit to the grocery store into a high-tech vending machine. Receipts, which arrived digitally a few minutes to hours after a shopper checked out, also weren’t practical for big shops.

Amazon Go stores will still use Just Walk Out technology, and the company will continue to license it to other retailers. Smaller stores in the UK also will keep using the system.

(Updates with more context on Dash Carts in fourth paragraph.)

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