Amazon Breaks New Ground With  Flexible Shopping

Amazon Breaks New Ground With Flexible Shopping

The Seattle-based megastore seems to always stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. One its newest inventions is a shopping technology called Just Walk Out that allows customers to use their hands as a scanner, select merchandise and simply walk out of the store without waiting at the register.

The new-fangled technology just launched in the Seattle area. So, I sat down with an Amazon representative to explore how it works and where we might see it next. All answers have been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity.

Liza B. Zimmerman: Why did you launch this technology?

Amazon Spokesperson (A.S.) Amazon Fresh is designed to offer a seamless grocery shopping experience, whether customers are shopping in-store or online. We want to offer customers more convenience in their grocery shopping trips and our Bellevue store—in suburban Seattle—offers customers the opportunity to use Just Walk Out technology in a full-sized grocery store, enabling shoppers to skip the checkout line and save time. Just Walk Out technology first debuted in our Amazon Go stores as a way to create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout.

L.B.Z.: Was the focus more on convenience or limiting contact?

A.S.: We wanted to offer customers more convenience in their grocery shopping trips, as well as offer them multiple ways to shop the store, with traditional checkout or with Just Walk Out shopping.

L.B.Z.: How many stores are using it currently?

A.S.: This is the first full-sized Amazon Fresh grocery store with Just Walk Out technology, which is also available in our more than 20 Amazon Go stores and at various third-party retailers’ stores.

L.B.Z.: How many do you plan on launching it in?

A.S.: For now, we’re excited to see how customers like being able to skip the checkout and use Just Walk Out shopping at the Amazon Fresh store in Bellevue. So, we’ll go from there.

L.B.Z.: What percentage of customers currently use it in the stores where it is available and what demographics are those users?

A.S.: We don’t have specifics on this to share.

L.B.Z.: How much time does it save them and how do their shopping patterns differ from those who don’t use it? 

A.S.: We don’t have specifics on this to share.

L.B.Z.: How does the technology with the palm scan work?

A.S.: Amazon One—the technology that allows you to scan your palm in order to shop—is very easy to use and takes less than a minute to enroll. Once you’ve registered, each time you need to confirm your ID or pay, you’ll just hold your palm above the device for about a second or so, and you will be on your way. It’s that simple! You can pay with Amazon One at this store whether you use Just Walk Out shopping or the traditional checkout counters.

L.B.Z.: Is it safe for people to share scans like that with a supermarket given the amount of cyber hacking that is going on today?

A.S.: The Amazon One device is protected by multiple security controls and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. Rather, the images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built in the cloud where we create your palm signature.

L.B.Z.: Can customers buy wine, and other alcoholic beverages, with Just Walk Out?

A.S.: Yes. In the Bellevue store, alcohol is located in a one-way aisle, whereby customers present an ID to an employee as they enter the aisle, then they exit through an auto-open gate. Customers cannot enter the alcohol aisle through the exit gate.

L.B.Z.: What implications does this technology have for the future?

A.S.: We don’t speculate on the future.

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