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USA: Amazon walks out on cashierless tech in grocery

Amazon has announced that it is discontinuing its pursuit of autonomous “Just Walk Out” technology that uses artificial intelligence to enable shoppers to take items and have the bill charged directly to their account. 

The company said in an email that they made the decision to cut the technology, which can be found in Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Go locations, due to customer feedback. 

“We’ve invested a lot of time redesigning a number of our Amazon Fresh stores over the last year, offering a better overall shopping experience with more value, convenience, and selection and so far we’ve seen positive results, with higher customer shopping satisfaction scores and increased purchasing,” said Amazon spokesperson Jessica Martin in a statement.

“We’ve also heard from customers that while they enjoyed the benefit of skipping the checkout line with Just Walk Out, they also wanted the ability to easily find nearby products and deals, view their receipt as they shop, and know how much money they saved while shopping throughout the store.”

Amazon is instead focusing on its AI-powered shopping carts, known as Dash Carts, Martin said. 

“To deliver even more convenience to our customers, we’re rolling out Amazon Dash Cart, our smart-shopping carts, which allows customers all these benefits including skipping the checkout line,” Martin added. 

Amazon noted that it will continue to offer Just Walk Out at Amazon Go stores, smaller format Amazon Fresh stores located in the U.K., and third-party retailers. 

As recently as January, Amazon announced that it was rolling out the tech at St. Joseph’s/Candler at its Candler Hospital Campus in Savannah, Ga., making it the first hospital to adopt the tech. “We look forward to bringing Just Walk Out technology and our employee badge pay capability to more health care facilities,” the company said in January. 

At that time, Amazon said the Just Walk Out tech had been deployed at more than 120 third-party locations, such as airports, stadiums, university campuses, grocery and convenience stores, theme parks, cafes, and elsewhere in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada. Amazon noted in that January press announcement that the tech was also being used in dozens of Amazon-owned stores. 

In the announcement on Tuesday, the company confirmed that it would remove the Just Walk Out tech at its recently renovated Amazon Fresh stores in Chicago and Southern California. 

“To deliver a better shopping experience, we brought an expanded selection, low prices on even more grocery items, and greater convenience with updated checkout options to redesigned stores, and we’re pleased to see those changes resonating with customers. As part of those updates, we’re removing Just Walk Out technology in favour of Amazon Dash Cart, our smart shopping cart,” the company said.

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