Amazon’s cashierless “Just Walk Out” payment system has spent the last half-decade in weird concept stores. But we’re now witnessing the inevitable—Amazon says that two new Whole Foods Markets will let you pick items off the shelf and walk out without paying at a register.
The “Just Walk Out” payment system first debuted in Amazon Go stores and later made its way to Amazon Fresh locations. It’s a simple idea; you scan your phone (or palm) to identify yourself when entering a store, pick up what you want, then bag everything up and leave. AI-powered cameras and smart shelves keep track of what you take home and automatically charge the credit card associated with your Amazon account. (The below video shows “Just Walk Out” at an Amazon Go location, not at a Whole Foods.)
The first Whole Foods Markets with “Just Walk Out” will open in Washington DC and Sherman Oaks, California next year. Self-checkout kiosks will accommodate those that aren’t comfortable using the cutting-edge “Just Walk Out” system, though cashier-run checkout lanes will be absent from these new Whole Foods locations.
Amazon seems very confident in its new payment system, which was easy for customers to manipulate just a few years ago. Of course, the benefits for cashierless checkout are hard for the company to ignore—it provides a frictionless shopping experience and significantly cuts down on labor costs (at the expense of cashiers).