Amazon Gives Up On No-Checkout Shopping In Its Grocery Stores

Amazon has decided to give up on its Just Walk Out program that lets customers leave its brick-and-mortar grocery stores without a formal checkout process, The Verge reported.

Instead, it’s switching fully to “Dash Carts,” where customers can scan products as they toss them in their cart.

That’s according to The Information, which reports that the company is pulling Just Walk Out from all larger stores where the system is in place and “sprucing up the stores across the board” as it prepares to expand Amazon Fresh locations this year. Amazon will keep using its smaller corner stores, though.

Amazon hasn’t managed to get a handle on in-person retail despite buying the upscale, popular Whole Foods chain back in 2017. Over the years, the online shopping giant has closed all of its Books, 4-Star, and Pop-up stores and halted the expansion of its Fresh stores.

According to The Verge, with the company falling back to further its Dash Carts, it’s essentially shrinking self-checkout into a contraption with scanners and a touchscreen, bolted onto special shopping carts — something that other retailers have tried in the US and in Europe — followed by checking out with a palm scanner. That has benefits like customers being able to keep a running total while they shop, but Amazon would still face hurdles.

Gizmodo reported Amazon is phasing out its checkout-less grocery stores with “Just Walk Out” technology. The company’s senior vice president of grocery stores says they’re moving away from Just Walk Out, which relied on cameras and sensors to track what people were leaving the store with.

Just over half of Amazon Fresh stores are equipped with Just Walk Out. The technology allows customers to skip checkout altogether by scanning a QR code when they enter the store. Though it seemed completely automated, Just Walk Out relied on more than 1,000 people in India watching and labeling videos to ensure accurate checkouts. The cashiers were simply moved off-site, and they watched you as you shopped.

Instead, Amazon is moving towards Dash Carts, a scanner and a screen that’s embedded in your shopping cart, allowing you to checkout as you shop. These offer a more reliable solution than Just Walk Out. Amazon Fresh stores will also feature self check out counters from now on, for people who aren’t Amazon members.

Engadget also reported Amazon is removing Just Walk Out tech from all of its Fresh grocery stores in the U.S. The self-checkout system relies on a host of cameras, sensors and good old-fashioned human eyeballs to track what people leave the store with, charging the customers accordingly.

The technology has been plagued by issues from the onset. Most notably, Just Walk Out presents the illusion of automation, with Amazon crowing about generative AI and the like. Here’s where the smoke and mirrors come in. While the stores have no actual cashiers, there are reportedly over 1,000 real people in India scanning the camera feeds to ensure accurate checkouts.

According to Engadget, its also incredibly expensive to install and maintain the necessary equipment, which is likely why Just Walk Out technology was only adopted at around half of Fresh stores in the U.S.

In my opinion, it would be easier to just get your groceries from your local grocery store, or request a door-dash driver to bring the groceries you requested to your door.