Amazon Walks Back 'Just Walk Out'

It turns out sometimes the tried-and-true old-school way of doing things really is the best. 

While scanning and bagging your own groceries has become the norm, the idea of placing everything in a cart and just walking out without going through a register wasn’t the best idea in the world. So Amazon is walking away from (pun intended) its so-called '"Just Walk out" technology. 

“In the last few years, Amazon has rolled Just Walk Out to larger-format stores,” according to Business Insider. “Twenty-seven of the 44 Amazon Fresh stores currently have the tech. Amazon also added Just Walk Out to some Whole Foods stores.”

The change only affects Amazon Fresh locations, the Seattle-based company’s grocery stores, and not Amazon Go, which are smaller convenience stores. 



“It also does not impact the more than 130 third-party retailers that Amazon partners with for use of its Just Walk Out technology at such locations as airports, college stores and cafes, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed toUSA Today. “The artificial intelligence technology, which sends customers their receipts after they've taken items off the shelves and left the store, will be replaced by smart carts, which allow customers to scan their items as they shop and see what they're paying and saving on a screen," Amazon said.

Amazon said it made the decision to cut the technology 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," Jessica Martin, Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement.

When Amazon debuted cashier-less technology, it was hailed as the future. 

“Customers just haven’t bought into cashier-less technology, especially in grocery stores where they purchase larger quantities and face extra tasks such as weighing produce,” according to CNN. “Amazon says the checkout technology may be more seamless in smaller stores -- that could include the Amazon Go convenience stores.”

The first Amazon Fresh store was opened in 2020 and there are now more than 40 locations across the US. After Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017, it added cashier-less checkout in those stores as well.

“In 2021, Amazon eliminated checkout lines in a full-sized, 25,000-square-foot Amazon fresh store in Washington state, and announced it was ramping up openings of the stores,” per CNN. “But Amazon Fresh has faced setbacks since it debuted, including challenges getting shoppers to buy groceries in its Amazon Fresh grocery stores, and it laid off workers.”

Amazon's cashier-free grocery ambitions are only shapeshifting, even as the retailer scales back its push to automate the entire supermarket experience.

"This is a failure; however, let's not forget that Amazon's success is built on failures," Guru Hariharan, CEO of CommerceIQ and a former Amazon manager, tells NPR. "That's the ironic part of it.”

Another drawback: the tech is also expensive and complex. 

“Outfitting every nook and cranny of a large store with smart computer vision proved unreasonable,” according to NPR. “And it still required some human involvement, with people behind the scenes helping machines learn to interpret video and clarify uncertainties.”

While it’s not obvious, there was a human component. 

“Amazon's Just Walk Out technology had a secret ingredient: Roughly 1,000 workers in India who review what you pick up, set down, and walk out of its stores with,” according to Business Insider. 

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