Whole Foods Market is next in line to get the checkout-free Just Walk Out payment technology that Amazon introduced in its Amazon Go convenience stores.
Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods said Wednesday that Just Walk Out will be available in two new stores slated to open next year in Washington, D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood and Sherman Oaks, Calif. The Glover Park store will be 21,500 square feet, while the Sherman Oaks will be a smaller Whole Foods location at 9,100 square feet.
Allowing customers to skip the checkout line, Just Walk Out uses overhead computer-vision cameras, weight sensors and deep-learning technology to detect merchandise that shoppers take from or return to shelves and track items selected in a virtual cart. At the store’s entry, customers are prompted to select Just Walk Out shopping or use the traditional checkout or self-checkout lanes.
Those choosing Just Walk Out enter the store by scanning the QR code in the Whole Foods or Amazon mobile app, scanning their palm on the Amazon One palm signature device, or inserting a credit/debit card linked to their Amazon account. When shoppers exit the store, using the same method for entry, Just Walk Out automatically debits their Amazon account for the items they take and then sends a digital receipt to the app.
“Since Whole Foods Market was founded more than 40 years ago, we have focused on finding new ways to surprise and delight our customers and improve the shopping experience,” Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “By collaborating with Amazon to introduce Just Walk Out Shopping at these two Whole Foods Market stores, our customers will be able to shop for fresh, thoughtfully sourced products that all meet our unparalleled quality standards, receive exceptional service from our team members throughout their shopping trip, and save time by skipping the checkout line. We can’t wait for customers to experience this effortless, convenient new way to shop at Whole Foods Market.”
Just Walk Out has been a hallmark of Amazon Go, Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar food store concept. The technology made its debut with the opening of the first Amazon Go, an 1,800-square-foot unit in Seattle, for employees in 2016 and then to the public in January 2018. Amazon later offered Just Walk Out at its Amazon Go Grocery stores in the United States and Amazon Fresh store in West London before debuting the technology at a new Amazon Fresh supermarket in Bellevue, Wash., this past June. The Bellevue Amazon Fresh opening marked the premiere of Just Walk Out functionality in a full-size grocery store. The U.S. Amazon Fresh stores also offer the multifunction Amazon Dash Cart smart shopping cart, which allows users to find items, track purchases and skip the checkout line.
Amazon Go now has 22 locations (with five temporarily closed) in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. The Amazon Go Grocery format is being phased out, with the Redmond, Wash., location now closed and the Seattle location being converted to the Amazon Fresh banner. Eighteen Amazon Fresh stores are now open in California (eight), Illinois (four), Washington (two), Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“We’ve heard from customers how much they appreciate the checkout-free shopping experience that Just Walk Out technology offers at both Amazon’s stores and other retailers’ stores,” stated Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon. “I’m excited to see how Whole Foods Market customers enjoy the fast, effortless Just Walk Out Shopping experience that allows them to skip the checkout line at the Glover Park and Sherman Oaks stores when they open.”
Customers not wanting to shop with Just Walk Out can use traditional or self-checkout lanes as well as pay at the customer service counter, Whole Foods said. These shoppers can pay with cash, prepaid cards, Whole Foods gift cards, electronic benefits transfer (EBT) or eWic and will receive a paper receipt.
The Glover Park is located at 2323 Wisconsin Avenue NW and the Sherman Oaks store at 12905 Riverside Drive. Whole Foods noted that both locations will employ a comparable number of associates as current Whole Foods Market stores of similar sizes and offer the same mix of products, including fresh, seasonal produce; full-service meat, seafood, and cheese departments; wide assortments of baked goods, grocery items, wellness and beauty care; alcoholic beverages; prepared foods; grab-and-go meals; and a variety of offerings from local producers. Customers don’t need to be Amazon Prime members or have an Amazon account to shop at the new stores, the retailer said.
“Our team members are our secret sauce – the expertise they offer in our aisles and the passion they bring to our stores are what makes Whole Foods Market such a special place to shop,” Mackey added. “We already have a bunch of incredible Team Members working hard to get these stores ready, and we look forward to hiring many more as we get closer to opening.”
Overall, Whole Foods operates 506 U.S. stores in 43 states plus 14 locations in Canada and six in the United Kingdom.