Amazon to launch 'Just Walk Out' Tech at Whole Foods stores

Photo (c) Sundry Photography - Getty Images

No special membership required, but customers must have an Amazon account

Today’s big "huh" moment may well be this: Amazon is set to test “Just Walk Out” technology at some of its Whole Food locations. You heard that right. Whole Foods customers in Washington, D.C., and Sherman Oaks, California, will have the option to skip the checkout line completely, take their stuff to their car, and just leave.

The company said it watched how customers traverse Whole Foods stores, and it hit them that the thing customers like least is standing in checkout lines. 

It took five years to work out the kinks at Amazon Go stores, but the company is confident the time is right and the technology in place to take on the challenge.

“We launched the technology first in Amazon Go several years ago, and since then, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from customers who love being able to quickly and easily shop and skip the checkout line,” said Dilip Kumar, Amazon's vice president of physical retail and technology. 

The stores will get the new technology sometime next year.

How it works

Just Walk Out technology is kind of like how a self-driving vehicle works -- a fusion of sensor vision, computer vision, and deep learning.

When a customer arrives at a Whole Foods store, they will be met by a team member who’ll ask them if they want to use the traditional checkout method or go for “Just Walk Out.” If they pick the “Just Walk Out” option, the team member will show them the ropes of how to proceed. 

There are three options at that point: Customers can scan the QR code in the Whole Foods Market or Amazon app, hover their palm using Amazon One, or insert a credit or debit card linked to their Amazon account. 

Conversely, customers who prefer to use cash, prepaid cards, Whole Foods Market gift cards, EBT, or eWic will have to use the self-checkout lanes. 

“Once inside, customers will shop like normal and at the end of their trip, they simply scan or insert their entry method again to exit. After customers leave the store, those who use the Just Walk Out experience will receive a digital receipt, which will be available in the Whole Foods Market app,” Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s Vice President of Physical Retail and Technology, explained.

The service doesn’t require any sort of special membership like Amazon Prime, Kumar said, but anyone who wants to use “Just Walk Out” tech does need to have an Amazon account.

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