Amazon, the name synonymous with retail convenience and being able to find almost anything you can dream of online, has taken the lid off its latest secret: a smart grocery cart. The new Amazon Dash Cart will make its debut later in the year at an in person Amazon grocery store based in California’s Woodland Hills. But the question on many consumers’ lips is, can Amazon truly reinvent the real shopping experience?
Amazon’s main aim in their newly revealed development is to be able to automate a physical retail checkout. The Dash Cart will make use of cameras and sensors to detect items placed into shopping carts, and then log those onto a digital display behind the cart’s handle. A scale will also be built into the carts as an additional means of ensuring the correct item has been logged and paid for. With this new technology, shoppers will be able to pay for their shopping and walk out of the store without needing to go through the usual checkout counters. It is certainly an ideal development in the current Coronavirus climate where social distancing has become the new normal.
Amazon Dash Cart has been developed such that the infrastructure required to set up and run the Amazon Go grocery convenience stores is not required. Thanks to the new technology Amazon has developed, the smart cart will be able to work independently of the need for any sensors in shelves or other specialist equipment such as overhead cameras. Many consumers have been questioning why Amazon was moving forward in the setting up of traditional grocery stores when they already have their Amazon Go convenience store concept. Now we know.
The vice president of Amazon’s physical and retail technology, Dilip Kumar, said that even with express style checkouts, consumers often having to wait in a queue or having difficulties scanning their items. Frequently the scales do not work properly, or the systems are too slow, and a member of staff needs to amend the digital display before being able to continue the checking out process. The Amazon Dash Cart has been developed to provide the consumer a seamless shopping experience which is highly convenient and easy to navigate – no more fuss at the express checkouts, never mind the conventional checkout counters. For the time being, the Dash Cart will not fully replace standard grocery store checkouts though. It is intended to be used for only small to medium sized shopping trips since the smart cart is just about big enough to fit up to two grocery bags full of items.
Amazon is not the only retailer looking to simplify their in store shopping and checkout procedures. Apart from new technology developments and being some of the first to implement such technologies, stores will benefit from the cost savings that new technology in their stores would offer. Grocery stores are notorious for their small profit margins on items – selling many lower priced items in high quantities. Now with social distancing and limited numbers possible in stores, cost saving measures are even higher on the agenda. However, Amazon has said that it will not reduce the number of staff members in their stores after the smart carts have been implemented. They will also be ensuring that they have team members on the shop floor to assist shoppers using the carts – just another way to ensure an easy shopping experience.
To use the Amazon Dash Cart, the shopper will need to use their Amazon app to scan the QR code on the cart in order to log in. Only then will they be able to begin their shopping. As items are added to the cart, they are logged, and once they have completed their shopping, they will be charged automatically using the debit or credit card that is saved within their Amazon account. A dedicated Dash Cart lane will be available, and the receipt will be emailed to the customer after they have left the store. Grocery shopping could not be much easier than that!
Will Amazon license its smart carts to other retailers for use in their stores? Let’s watch and wait.