Friday, June 18, 2021

Amazon Fresh Grocery Just Walk Out Stumbles


At the intersection of yesterday’s grocery shopping, a time consuming chore, and grocerant niche fresh prepared food, Amazon Fresh pays employees well and is a step by step guide to the future of grocery shopping according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

There is however a problem.  The Amazon branded invitation for food discovery via Amazon Fresh, is strong on technology, weak on grocerant niche fresh prepared food.    Our Grocerant Guru® visited the new “just Walk Out” Amazon Fresh store in Bellevue, Wash., on June 17, 2021.

While the functionality of Just Walk Out is amazing, as regular readers of this blog know from his other visits to Amazon Go stores, that he blogged about, and has spoken about around the world.  This experience was not up to previous experiences or expectations.

So, the debut of cashierless checkout for a ‘full-sized’ urban grocery store had a couple of little technology hick-ups, that’s to be expected. However, much of the grocerant niche fresh prepared food looked as if it was brought in from a slow Mariano’s grocery store from Chicago and should have been left there.

That said it’s clear the technology folks and data crunchers were in charge of defining, stocking, and pricing the products within the store.  They overlooked the fact it is consumers who buy the food.  This is a stumbling block not a road block. One might think the data crunchers used data from the past 18 months to construct the product mix within the store. If they, did you just might think the pandemic would be with us forever.  It won’t.  The data crunchers did not look a customer ahead, nor did they look a back at what the consumer was buying prior to the pandemic.  

According to conversations of consumers shopping near him in the store, our Grocerant Guru overheard shoppers marvel at the prices (high), comment on freshness (poor), all while talking about the ‘technology’.  Remember this is a store centered in the Seattle metro area filled with techies. Here is how our Grocerant Guru® summed up his trip to the team at Foodservice Solutions® HQ; “consumers could not find the ‘price, value, service equilibrium.  

Consumers will not think, I want to shop Amazon Fresh first, it will be an afterthought. The “Just Walk Out Amazon Fresh Grocery store today is more about IQ (Intelligent quotient) than EQ (emotional quotient) according to Johnson. Once again this is a stumbling block not a road block.  The team at Amazon is smart, they are smart enough to evolve their store and technology simultaneously. This iteration of Amazon Fresh will garner trial but will fall short on adoption according to Johnson.

There were areas of the store that did excel when it comes to fresh food. Those items are the pictures you see in this blog post.  It is the consensus of the team at Foodservice Solutions® that Amazon is going to fix this store, so that the branded fresh food offerings, will reflect a proper balance of IQ and EQ in order to drive customer adoption.

So, just how does the technology work?  Get this, Just Walk Out system uses overhead computer-vision cameras, weight sensors and deep-learning technology to detect merchandise that shoppers take from or return to shelves and track items selected in a virtual cart. At the store’s automated entry gates, customers are prompted to select Just Walk Out shopping or use the traditional checkout lanes.

Those choosing Just Walk Out enter the store by scanning the QR code in the Amazon mobile app, scanning their palm on the Amazon One palm signature device, or inserting a credit/debit card linked to their Amazon account. When shoppers exit the store, using the same method for entry, the Just Walk Out technology automatically debits their Amazon account for the items they take and then sends a receipt to the app.

As shoppers exit the store, Just Walk Out automatically debits their Amazon accounts for the items they take and then sends a receipt to their Amazon mobile app.

Customers who want to use conventional checkout lanes enter the store through the designated gates and use one of the staffed checkout lanes to pay with cash, credit or debit card, Amazon One or an in-store code in the Amazon app. Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also can use their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards to pay. Checkout lane users will get a paper receipt, and recognized Amazon customers will receive a digital receipt as well.

Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology at Amazon, stated, “Customers have enjoyed the effortless shopping experience enabled by our Just Walk Out technology at our Amazon Go, Amazon Go Grocery, Amazon Fresh stores in the U.K., and third-party retailer stores. The feedback has been fantastic, with customers noting that skipping the checkout allows them to save time and reduce contact in stores,”, …. “Bringing Just Walk Out technology to a full-size grocery space with the Amazon Fresh store in Bellevue showcases the technology’s continued ability to scale and adapt to new environments and selection. I’m thrilled it’ll help even more customers enjoy an easier and faster way to shop and can’t wait to get their feedback on this latest Just Walk Out offering.”

Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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