Amazon’s assault on the grocery industry arrived in my hometown of Washington DC last month. A new Amazon Fresh store opened in the upscale Logan Circle neighborhood—one of dozens of stores Amazon is expected to open in the coming months across the United States.
The DC store is notable because it’s one of the first Amazon Fresh stores to feature Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology. Cameras, weight sensors, and sophisticated software enable customers to grab the items they want and leave, skipping the checkout process entirely. Amazon debuted the technology for smaller Amazon Go convenience stores a few years ago, and is now starting to use it for larger stores.
For this story I visited two Amazon fresh stores—the DC store with Just Walk Out technology and a second store in the Virginia suburbs. The Virginia store uses a different checkout technology called a Dash Cart. As we’ll see, the Just Walk Out technology worked well, while the Dash Cart left a lot to be desired.
Amazon’s extensive knowledge and experience running complex supply chains—and owning Whole Foods over the last four years—would make it a formidable competitor even without its Just Walk Out technology. Add in the no-checkout technology, and incumbent supermarkets have a lot of reasons to worry.