Retailers

D.C. Shoppers Walk Out of New Amazon Fresh Store

Grocers’ Logan Circle store first to feature checkout-free experience in region
Amazon Fresh Just Walk Out
Photograph courtesy of Amazon Fresh

The newest Amazon Fresh grocery store opened in Washington, D.C., on July 22. The small-format 7,302-square foot store at 1733 14th St. N.W. in Logan Circle is the second Amazon Fresh store to open in the greater Washington, D.C., area and the first store in the region to use Just Walk Out technology, which offers customers the ability to skip the checkout line.

Upon entering the store, customers scan the QR code in their Amazon app, and then put their phone away and shop. Anything they take off the shelf is automatically added to their virtual cart, and anything they put back on the shelf comes out of their virtual cart. At the end of their trip, customers simply exit the store.

“Just Walk Out technology is made possible by a combination of computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning, and adds convenience to customers’ grocery shopping experience by giving them the option to come in, pick up what they want, and skip the checkout when they’re done,” the company said.

Will Just Walk Out brick-and-mortar stores become the norm? A recent webinar based on a thought leadership paper from Edge by Ascential, titled Winning Strategy: Store of the Future, suggests the technology will play a key role in how consumers shop in-store and around the world in the years ahead.

Amazon has the potential to be a “serious force on high street” as it has been on main street in the U.S., said Harry Wallop, U.K.-based consumer journalist, broadcaster and moderator of the Edge by Ascential webinar. With its four Amazon Fresh stores featuring contactless checkout technology in London, Wallop and Edge by Ascential point to the Seattle-based retailer as a key innovator in the revival of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience—one that will take the industry into the future.

But checkout-free technology is not without its challenges. When the first Amazon Fresh location opened across the pond in West London’s Ealing neighborhood, local reporters interviewed shoppers who found the technology “scary.” While checkout-free may take some getting used to for some consumers, particularly older shoppers, lack of a checkout line also impacts a grocer’s ability to offer all-important impulse items at the checkout stand.

Edge by Ascential said, when it comes to checkout-free grocery—to keep impulse buys alive—a certain amount of store redesign will need to occur as will an increase in opportunities to engage with shoppers on the store floor and through product packaging.

The new Logan Circle store follows the opening of the first Amazon Fresh store in the Washington, D.C., area—in Franconia, Va.—two months ago, and is the 15th Amazon Fresh store to open across the country.

Amazon Fresh’s new D.C. store offers customers national brands such as Coca-Cola and Kraft Mac and Cheese, as well as local brands such as Bread Furst Bakery and Taharka Brothers Ice Cream. Regional favorites like Cava dips and Amazon-exclusive brands like Aplenty, Fresh and Cursive are also available at the Logan Circle store.

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