Amazon’s New Grocery Store Will Have Smart Carts With a Familiar Name

Just Walk Out technology meets 'small- to medium-sized grocery trips'

amazon smart cart
Amazon's new grocery store will feature smart carts. Amazon
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Amazon has revealed its upcoming grocery store in Woodland Hills, Calif. will feature smart shopping carts called Dash Carts when it opens later this year.

Like its Just Walk Out technology at the 26 checkout-free Amazon Go locations in the U.S., Dash Carts will allow shoppers to skip checkout lines.

With Dash Carts, customers can stock up a bit more than they would at Amazon Go, which is focused on breakfast, lunch and snacks, but they won’t likely be able to fortify their pantries. Instead, Dash Carts accommodate two bags, for what Amazon describes as “small-to-medium sized grocery trips.”

To begin shopping, customers sign in via a QR code and place their bags in the cart. Amazon says the Dash Cart uses computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items. It also features a screen where shoppers can view their Alexa Shopping Lists and see a running subtotal. The carts also have coupon scanners.

When shoppers exit through the specified Dash Cart lane, sensors identify the cart and payment is processed via the credit card associated with that shopper’s Amazon account.

These carts also mean the Dash name lives on in yet another iteration.

Dash 1.0 was Amazon’s Dash buttons, the tap-to-reorder devices for consumer packaged goods (CPG). When they were announced on March 31, 2015, there was some speculation they were an April Fools joke. By 2016, however, Amazon had more than 100 buttons from a range of brands like Bounty, Clorox, Doritos, Huggies, Tide and Ziploc. They never really took off with customers, however, and, as of Aug. 31, 2019, Amazon disabled them, though some virtual Dash buttons remained.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Dash Replenishment service, which launched in 2016, gives connected devices the autonomy to reorder products themselves. Yes, that means your Brother connected printer and your GE smart washing machine can check toner and detergent levels using inputs like pressure flow, weight and other sensor arrays to purchase refills on your behalf.

Similarly, in November, Amazon announced a Dash-enabled Smart Shelf for business customers in the U.S., which weighs whatever is placed on it, like, say, reams of paper, and sends low-inventory notifications or automatically reorders products when it senses that stock is running low.

It was not clear when exactly Amazon’s latest grocery store will open. Last year, Amazon confirmed the grocery concept in the L.A. suburb will be distinct from Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired in 2017, and it will not be another Amazon Go. It will also include traditional checkout counters. (In February, Amazon opened its first Amazon Go grocery hybrid, Amazon Go Grocery, in Seattle.)

For its part, Walmart announced its own “experimental checkout experience” at a Supercenter in Fayetteville, Ark., which replaced cashiers at traditional lanes with 34 always-open registers surrounding a “wide-open area.”

In a blog post, a Walmart spokesperson said the checkout concept is not “just a bunch of self-checkout registers,” but rather a “full-service … experience.”

When customers walk into the register area, they are greeted by an associate behind a clear barrier. Customers have the option to check themselves out or to have the associate do the honors. The retailer says bringing employees from out behind the register helps them focus not on the speed of each transaction, but rather “the individual needs of each customer.”

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.