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Amazon Sets the Record Straight About Dash Carts and Just Walk Out Tech

Company releases update after much speculation
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Amazon Dash Cart
Amazon is now offering its Dash Carts to other grocers.

After numerous reports that Amazon was removing its Just Walk Out technology from its Fresh banners, the company has released an update confirming that it's currently focused on using the technology in small-format retail, while its Dash Carts will be applied to grocery and large-format stores.

According to Amazon, customers prefer Amazon Dash Cart in larger grocery stores, where customers are making a big weekly trip and buy a greater number of items.

The Dash Cart, like Just Walk Out technology, uses a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to help identify items placed in and removed from the cart. When customers are ready to check out, they can skip the checkout line and simply exit the store through the Amazon Dash Cart lane, and a receipt is instantly emailed to them.

[RELATED: Amazon CEO Talks Grocery Potential]

Along with skipping the line at checkout, Dash Cart helps consumers locate items with an on-cart screen featuring maps and navigation, and enables them to have personalized shopping experiences, all while tracking their savings and spending in real time. 

Dash Carts are available at select Whole Foods Market locations, and Amazon is currently working to roll them out at all U.S. Amazon Fresh stores. In addition, Dash Carts will be available at select third-party grocery stores. 

“We're also excited for what we have planned for future iterations of Dash Cart, which will make shopping even more intuitive and as familiar as using a traditional shopping cart,” wrote Dilip Kumar, VP of AWS Applications, in the company update.

Meanwhile, Amazon still has high hopes for its proprietary Just Walk Out technology, finding it more appropriate for quick shopping trips with relatively few items. Amazon believes in its proprietary tech so much that it will launch more small-format third-party Just Walk Out stores in 2024 than any year prior, more than doubling the number of third-party stores with the technology this year.

Even with relatively few items sold per visit, Amazon reports it has already sold more than 18 million items in Just Walk Out stores. There are now more than 140 third-party locations with Just Walk Out technology in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. These include travel retailers, sports stadiums, entertainment venues, conference centers, theme parks, convenience stores, hospitals and college campuses.

While it's currently focused on small-format stores, Amazon is continuing to invent the next generation of Just Walk Out technology to improve the checkout experience for large-format stores. “We’re building edge compute and the associated algorithms to improve latency and accuracy for faster and more reliable receipts, a new set of algorithms for action recognition, and new sensors so retailers can offer customers even greater selection,” wrote Kumar.

Amazon also offers its Amazon One palm recognition service as part of its checkout-tech portfolio. Amazon One allows shoppers to securely check out with the palm of their hand by looking at both the palm and its underlying vein structure to create a unique palm signature for identity matching. It's available at any one of the 500-plus Whole Foods Market stores in the United States, several Amazon stores, and more than 150 third-party locations in stadiums, airports, fitness centers, convenience stores and more. 

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century

Want to learn more about in-store technologies? The top retailers and solution providers in grocery will be talking about the latest innovations and so much more at Progressive Grocer's annual GroceryTech event in Dallas on June 5-7. Click here for more information and to register now. 

  • Myth Busting

    In the company update, Kumar also dispelling rumors that Just Walk Out technology relies on human reviewers watching from afar. “Most AI systems, including the underlying ML models behind these technologies, are continuously improved by annotating synthetic (AI generated) and real shopping data,” wrote Kumar. “Our associates are responsible for this labeling and annotation step. Associates don’t watch live video of shoppers to generate receipts — that’s taken care of automatically by the computer vision algorithms. This is no different than any other AI system that places a high value on accuracy, where human reviewers are common.”

    Just Walk Out technology detects when a shopper’s hand interacts with a product on the shelf. When that happens, ML algorithms make sure the correct item is added to the shopper’s virtual cart — all without any specific knowledge about the person. As explained by Kumar, when a shopper enters a store, the technology simply links them with their payment method and assigns a temporary numeric code, which serves as the shopper’s unique digital signature for that shopping trip. The system preserves the code throughout the shopper’s time in the store. When they exit, the code disappears, and if they come back, they get a new code. Just Walk Out technology does not use or collect any biometric information of shoppers.

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