Amazon has brought its checkout-less Just Walk Out technology to a Whole Foods store for the first time, allowing customers to shop and leave the store with their items without a cashier’s intervention. The remodeled store opened on February 23 in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, DC, which has been home to a Whole Foods store for more than 20 years.
Although Amazon operates cashless supermarkets in increasingly large Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores, this is the first time it has brought the technology to a Whole Foods store. Amazon bought the supermarket chain in 2017 for $13.7 billion, but so far the brand’s integration with Amazon has been minimal, consisting of discounts and free delivery for Prime subscribers.
At 21,500 square feet, the Whole Foods location isn’t the largest store to use Amazon’s checkout-less technology (for example, there’s a 25,000-square-foot Amazon Fresh store with Just Walk Out technology in Bellevue, Washington). But it shows Amazon’s confidence in its technology that it’s willing to take it to a pre-existing store that Amazon doesn’t have to its name. Amazon declined to comment on The New York Times whether it plans to add the technology to all Whole Foods stores.
According to an NYT reporter who visited the store, the Whole Foods features Amazon’s palm recognition technology for access alongside more typical QR codes. The store still has a number of employees who man various counters and who also explain how the checkout-less technology works. The store also relies on self-service, such as offering a bread slicer for customers to cut their own loaves of bread. Customers can also opt for self-service checkouts if they don’t want to use Just Walk Out.
The NYT reports that checkoutless technology has divided shoppers who were used to shopping at Whole Foods prior to the renovation. A quoted customer compared the technology to the monitoring status in 1984while others were more willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
The Washington, D.C. store is one of two Whole Foods stores that Amazon previously announced will bring its checkout-less technology — the second set to open in Los Angeles later this year.