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Whole Foods Market Launching Amazon's Just Walk Out Tech

Stores in D.C., California to feature cashier-less checkout
Gina Acosta, Progressive Grocer
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Whole Foods Market shoppers using Just Walk Out will have the option to use Amazon One, a contactless way for people to enter, identify and pay using their palm. 

Amazon is wasting no time in its effort to scale its cashier-less technology.

The company announced Wednesday that it is rolling out Just Walk Out (JWO) shopping at two Whole Foods Market stores. Located in Washington, D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood and Sherman Oaks, Calif., the stores are expected to open within the next year. The stores will offer JWO cashier-less checkout lanes and self-checkout lanes but not traditional checkout lanes. Shoppers who want to check out with a Whole Foods Market Team Member will need to check out at the Customer Service desk.

Just Walk Out technology offers shoppers the ability to enter, shop for the items they want, and simply exit the store. Shoppers using Just Walk Out will also have the option to use Amazon One, a contactless way for people to enter, identify and pay using their palm. 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. 

Amazon scaling contactless payment options and its JWO innovations now could not be more ideally timed. The pandemic has prompted consumers to favor the perceived safety and convenience of innovations such as JWO. 

“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,” said John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. “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.”

Amazon says it is hearing from shoppers across its grocery ecosystem that they want to skip the hassle, stress and pandemic-unfriendly crowding associated with checkout lanes.

“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,” said Dilip Kumar, vice president, 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.”

For Amazon, it makes sense for the company to also want to showcase the capabilities of JWO technology in as many stores as possible as other retailers mull whether to buy it. In addition to  Amazon Go stores, Just Walk Out is currently available at several Amazon Fresh stores in the U.S. and the UK, and Amazon sells its Just Walk Out technology to third-party retailers.

The Washington, D.C., store is located at 2323 Wisconsin Avenue NW (37,000 square feet) and the Sherman Oaks store is located at 12905 Riverside Drive (17,000 square feet). The D.C. store could be the largest Amazon grocery store to offer JWO tech. 

"In these upcoming Whole Foods Market locations, we expanded our computer vision algorithms to support all of the Whole Foods Market selection people have come to love with the added benefits of Just Walk Out technology," Kumar said. "For example, customers at these stores will be able to shop stations with self-service fresh-squeezed orange juice and mochi ice cream, while still shopping with the Just Walk Out experience and without adjusting any shopping habits. We also integrated with Whole Foods Market’s checkout and payment processing systems to accommodate customers who want to either shop with Just Walk Out technology or via the store’s self-checkout lanes."

Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market in 2017. The company opened its first traditional grocery banner, Amazon Fresh, last year. There are now 18 Amazon Fresh locations across the country as Amazon paints a clear picture of what it sees as the future of grocery shopping. 

Amazon's announcement comes a few weeks after the company named Tesco veteran Tony Hoggett to run its physical stores. Hoggett had been with Tesco, the UK's biggest food retailer, for more than 31 years and was chief strategy and innovation director. Hoggett will join Amazon in January 2022 as senior vice president of physical stores, reporting to Dave Clark, chief executive of its worldwide consumer business.

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods is No. 26 on PG's list.

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