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What Amazon’s revamped Whole Foods store means for shoppers

Amazon-owned Whole Foods has rolled out its cashierless technology in Washington, DC. The store announced that shoppers at the Whole Foods location in the Glover Park section of the capital would no longer need to interact with anyone at a cash register when paying for their groceries. The company unveiled its Just Walk Out technology, which was first announced in the fall of last year, at the 21,500-square-foot location — the first of two that will be outfitted with automated cash registers. A similar initiative is being planned for a Whole Foods in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles. Just Walk Out works by having shoppers scan their payment method of choice when walking into the store. It could be a credit card; the Amazon One payment system, which lets shoppers hover their palms over a scanner to identify themselves; or the Amazon and Whole Foods apps. Instead of a bagger scanning each item taken, cameras and sensors track what shoppers choose and automatically charge them. Shoppers then have to scan again upon exiting with their groceries. At the DC and LA locations, shoppers will be able to opt out of the new technology and instead pay in the traditional way. Amazon has said that it will gauge customer experiences in the two stores before deciding on whether to expand the feature to other Whole Foods locations around the country. Whole Foods says the Just Walk Out technology “provides customers the choice to skip the register for a faster, more convenient shopping experience while offering the same high-quality products and exceptional service from Team Members as other Whole Foods Market stores.” Prior to last week, the company rolled out the cashier-eliminating tech in other Amazon-owned supermarkets, but not Whole Foods. The technology is already available at several Amazon Fresh grocery stores and in its Go convenience stores. Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion. But while the company has dominated the online retail space, the grocery market has proved more challenging. As of mid-December, Amazon.com and Whole Foods have combined for just 2.4% of the grocery market, according to research firm Numerator. Just before noon on Tuesday, Amazon’s share price fell by some 0.4%.

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