Amazon Is Still Figuring Out How To Do Grocery

The multi-billion dollar company just can’t seem to nail down its grocery business.

Amazon is fantastic at getting people almost anything they desire with the kind of speed even Jimmy John's would describe as "freaky fast," but for some reason the company is still having trouble creating a grocery store experience people actually like.

In an interview with The Information, shared by Payments Dive, Amazon's senior vice president of grocery stores confirmed the company will be pulling back its proprietary Just Walk Out technology from Amazon Fresh grocery stores as part of an overhaul.

The Just Walk Out technology first debuted at Amazon Fresh stores in 2021, but did leave some consumers feeling "watched." This is because the tech uses cameras and sensors throughout the store to monitor shoppers and detect what they leave the store with or put back on the shelf. Shoppers are then charged for the transaction on either a credit or debit card, or through Amazon One technology which scans your palm. (Interestingly, the Just Walk Out technology seemed to have performed better at Whole Foods, which Amazon also owns.)

Now, the company's senior vice president of grocery stores tells The Information that it will be replacing Just Walk Out technology with its smart shopping carts which offer a similar checkoutless experience. With the smart shopping carts, customers can place their groceries in the cart and have an automatic payment system set up so they can also just walk out when they're done shopping.

An Amazon spokesperson explained to Payments Dive that feedback has shown customers would like to be provided with more information while shopping. To service this, the new carts will come with enhanced features like deal notifications and displaying an updated receipt while the customer shops so they are able to keep track of the total cost.

Dialing back its cartless, checkoutless tech is just the most recent sign of trouble at Amazon Fresh, as the stores have not been doing well overall for the past few years. Grocery Dive reported on Amazon's plans to close some of its underperforming locations in February of 2023 while simultaneously slowing expansion. Following that drastic action, in August of last year the grab-and-go grocery chain underwent a round of layoffs.

Technology might be the way of the future, but as Amazon is learning, it's maybe not the way of grocery stores.