Whole Foods has successfully implemented seamless self-checkout technology in two locations.
- Whole Foods has introduced innovative new technology to its stores that allows customers to check out without having to use a cashier or self-checkout station.
- “Customers will have an option to skip the checkout line. Using Just Walk Out technology, customers can enter, shop for the items they want, and simply exit the store,” explains Whole Foods.
- “[The] service requires shoppers to scan in with an in-store code at the store’s entry gate. Customers are expected to bag their own groceries as they shop. In-store sensors track these selections and the total cost of the basket. Then shoppers scan out of the store and receive an emailed receipt,” says Business Insider.
- The technology was announced last September to open in two stores in Washington, D.C., and Sherman Oaks, California.
Why it’s important
The launch of Whole Foods’ two operational stores is a major success for parent company Amazon, which first tested the technology in 2018 in one of its Amazon Go convenience stores. It has since sold the technology to at least a dozen different businesses.
The technology offers a new, convenient way to shop and gives the shopper the benefit of choosing a less strenuous means of checking out their groceries.
It also offers opportunities for Whole Foods locations to reduce staffing needs or divert staff to other tasks.
“Amazon has attempted to meld its own technology with the grocery industry for years. Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion back in 2017. In 2020, the company kicked off brick-and-mortar Fresh stores,” says Business Insider.
“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,” says Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.
What’s not being said
The nature of the technology, which is heavily reliant on camera surveillance and algorithms, has some critics concerned about the data and security abuses that are possible with such a powerful technology.
“The watching and tracking and palm-scanning actually doesn’t represent a big jump in Amazon’s data collection on its customers, says Northeastern University professor of computer science Christo Wilson. Purchase history, web clicks, consumer preferences—‘They already have this information,’ he says. It’s just being gathered now in kind of a new way,’” says KCRW reporter Robin Estrin.
“Amazon doesn’t deny that it collects this data online or in person. In response to KCRW’s questions, Luu said the company takes data security and privacy seriously, and any sensitive data is treated in accordance with our long-standing policies.”