Amazon has updated its two-year-old Dash Cart “smart” shopping cart, which now carries more groceries and can by taken by shoppers all the way to their car.
And with the launch of the new version, Amazon now plans to introduce the Dash Cart at subsidiary Whole Foods Market. Currently, the Dash Cart is available only at selected Amazon Fresh supermarkets.
Introduced in 2020, Dash Cart keeps track of shoppers’ purchases and allows them to complete their transaction while exiting the store, bypassing the checkout and self-checkout lines. Sensors automatically identify the cart and the items selected, and the customer’s payment is processed using the credit card on their Amazon account. A receipt is emailed to the customer.
The new cart weighs less than the original but has more than double the capacity, holding four grocery bags instead of two. Originally designed for small- to medium-sized shopping trips, the weather-resistant cart can now take larger loads to the parking lot, so customers no longer have to carry their bags from store to car.
As before, the Dash Cart displays real-time receipts, and shoppers can weigh produce in the cart’s basket. The new cart is fitted with a “delicates” shelf and a lower shelf for oversized items. In addition, the screens now display images of nearby fresh items, such as produce, or shoppers can type in the item name — for example, “apple” — instead of a four-digit price-lookup (PLU) code.
The updated technology also more precisely locates the Dash Cart within the store to better show nearby products and deals, Amazon said. The carts, too, have an extended, all-day battery life that requires less charging.
Amazon plans to introduce the new Dash Cart at the Whole Foods Market store in Westford, Mass., in the coming months, followed by additional Whole Foods locations and more Amazon Fresh stores. With the new version, shoppers will be able to log in through a QR code with the Whole Foods Market app in addition to the Amazon app.
“As many of our customers return to their in-store grocery shopping routines, it’s exciting to introduce new and unique ways for them to shop our stores,” Leandro Balbinot, chief technology officer at Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that the newest version of Dash Cart will debut in our Westford store and can’t wait to hear the feedback from our customers there.”
Dash Carts are currently available at 16 of the 35 Amazon Fresh store locations: Fullerton, Irvine, Long Beach, Ladera Heights in Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Northridge, Whittier and Woodland Hills, Calif.; Bloomingdale, Naperville (Route 59 location), Oak Lawn and Schaumburg, Ill.; Chevy Chase, Md.; Warrington, Pa.; Franconia, Va.; and Seattle (Jackson Street location), Wash.
The other Amazon Fresh stores offer Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, which detects items taken off or removed from shelves while keeping a running total of the purchase, enabling shoppers to skip the checkout line. This year, Just Walk Out also was introduced at Whole Foods stores in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and Washington, D.C., with plans to deploy in more locations.
The new carts went through rigorous testing before going live. To test their durability for repeated trips to the parking lot, Amazon “baked the technology in an oven and froze test carts in a giant freezer to ensure they would survive harsh weather conditions,” according to Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology of Seattle-based Amazon. Heavy weights were dropped into test carts’ baskets 100,000 times to ensure they would remain usable, he said.
“These updates are the result of customer feedback, improved computer vision and sensor fusion technology, and backend innovation and testing,” explained Kumar. “Our goal with the Dash Cart has always been to make in-store shopping more convenient by eliminating the need to stand in checkout lines or unload and reload items at self-checkout stations, and we hope shoppers enjoy these updates as much as we think they will.”