Amazon is ending 'checkout-free' option at grocery stores. Here's what happens now

Amazon Fresh

Amazon

If you enjoy Amazon’s cashierless “Just Walk Out” option at Fresh grocery stores, bad news dropped this morning, courtesy of The Information.

In an effort to “revamp” its grocery stores, the company is removing the technology that lets customers pay for an item by simply leaving the store and avoiding the checkout process entirely. A little more than half of Amazon Fresh stores currently use this technology.

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Instead, shoppers will now have to use Dash Carts, or smart carts that still let customers skip the checkout line, but in lieu of cameras and sensors tracking purchases, items need to be placed in the cart. Savings and spending totals will be calculated in real time on an embedded screen. Customers will still be able to pay and leave quickly, especially if they use Amazon’s pay-by-palm option.

Traditional self-checkout counters will be available for people who aren’t Amazon members.

This change comes as Amazon prepares to open multiple new stores. Around 40 Fresh grocery stores are currently located in the US, with the majority on the West Coast. 

Just Walk Out debuted in 2016 and is still a fairly revolutionary idea in the world of retail. But, as The Information reported in 2022, the revolution has had its issues. While the shopping process seemed automatic, it was actually run by more than 1,000 employees in India watching videos of shoppers. This often led to long delays in getting a receipt, and according to Gizmodo, some of these employees were watching shoppers and assigning products to the wrong person. Furthermore, since the camera and sensor setup was so expensive, Amazon struggled to sell the idea to other retailers.

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Just Walk Out is reportedly staying in Amazon Fresh locations in the UK and in Amazon Go convenience stores. Several arenas and stadiums around the US also still use the tech. It’s unclear at this time whether the service will go away completely and if any Go convenience stores or stadiums will also be affected. 


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