Amazon starts selling smart grocery carts to other retailers

The company has expanded Dash Carts in Fresh stores and Whole Foods locations as it has recently pulled back on its cashier-less checkout technology.

Amazon starts selling smart grocery carts to other retailers

A woman uses a dash cart during her grocery-shopping at a Whole Foods store as Amazon launches smart shopping carts at Whole Foods stores in San Mateo, California, United States on February 25, 2024. The smart shopping cart makes grocery shopping quicker by allowing customers to scan products right into their cart as they shop and then skip the checkout line.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu | Getty Images

Amazon will begin selling its smart grocery carts to other retailers, the company said Wednesday, marking its latest bid to turn its Dash Cart technology into a service.

A handful of Price Chopper and McKeever's Market stores located in Kansas and Missouri are testing the smart grocery carts, which track and tally up items while customers shop, Amazon said.

Amazon launched the Dash Cart in 2020 at its Fresh supermarket chain before adding it to select Whole Foods stores. They use a combination of computer vision and sensors to identify items as they're placed in bags inside the cart. As shoppers add and remove items, a display on the cart adjusts the total price in real time.

Amazon is following a similar playbook previously deployed for its "Just Walk Out" cashier-less technology. Just Walk Out was first conceived for use in Amazon's Go convenience stores, until Amazon began selling the system to third-party retailers in airports, stadiums, hospitals and other venues.

While it's signed up more third-party Just Walk Out users, Amazon has pulled the technology from many of its own grocery stores. Earlier this month, Amazon said it would scrap Just Walk Out at some Fresh stores, and the two Whole Foods locations where it was installed. The company's Go convenience stores and smaller Fresh stores in the U.K. will continue to use the technology, while it will expand Dash Carts in its U.S. Fresh stores.

Amazon teams working on Just Walk Out, Dash Carts and other physical store technologies were among those hit by layoffs earlier this month.

On Wednesday, Amazon said it has "strong conviction that Just Walk Out technology will be the future in stores that have a curated selection where customers can pop in, grab the small number of items they need, and simply walk out."

Just Walk Out relies on an array of cameras and sensors throughout the store that monitor which items shoppers pick up and charge them automatically when they leave. Amazon and other start-ups that have developed similar cashier-less checkout systems were slow to launch them in larger format stores, originally launching the systems in convenience marts, due to the complex and expensive technology involved.

Those systems came under scrutiny earlier this month after reports from Gizmodo and others claimed Amazon's Just Walk Out technology relied on human moderators who "watched you as you shopped." Many of the reports cited a May 2023 story from The Information which said Amazon uses roughly 1,000 employees in India to review JWO transactions and label footage to help train the AI models that make it work.

Amazon said reports that workers watched customers from afar are "untrue," though it conceded that human staffers are responsible for labeling and annotating shopping data.

"Associates don't watch live video of shoppers to generate receipts -- that's taken care of automatically by the computer vision algorithms," the company said. "This is no different than any other AI system that places a high value on accuracy, where human reviewers are common."

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