Amazon reportedly just took one step closer to automating Whole Foods stores, and it reveals a road map for the future of shopping

  • Amazon is reportedly working on adapting its Amazon Go automated store technology to larger-format stores, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
  • The most natural fit for an application of this expanded technology would be Amazon’s own grocery-store chain,Whole Foods.
  • This new use case greatly expands the use of Amazon Go’s “just-walk-out” technology and realises a future that retail has been gradually inching toward for years now.

Amazon is constantly looking for quicker ways to get customers to part with their money.

After all, that’s the main goal of the technology used in the company’s cashierless Amazon Go stores, which use advanced technology to track what customers take, then charge them for it without making them wait in line.

Now Amazon is looking to expand the use of that technology to larger stores, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal. The company recently started testing the use of the tech in a larger space in Seattle, the Journal reported. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider Monday morning.

The most obvious use case for this would be Amazon’s own fleet of grocery stores, Whole Foods, which are much larger than the Amazon Go convenience stores the company has been opening in cities across the country.

While Whole Foods stores were an average of 40,000 square feet as of 2017, Amazon Go stores have all been less than 2,300 square feet – more convenience store than full-scale fresh grocery.

But that could change once Amazon is able to crack the code of scaling the technology to spaces where there are more items for sale, more people shopping, and just generally more information to take in and process.

A cashierless future

Whether or not it happens in the next year or the next decade, it’s clear where retail is going. Technology that allows customers to walk out without having to check out has proliferated this year, though without Amazon’s array of fancy technology.

Retailers including Nike have implemented in-store technology that allows customers to buy items with just a smartphone. It’s not quite the neat plan Amazon has for its stores, but it has a similar result: skipping the lines before the cashier.

Read more:
Take a look around Nike’s enormous new flagship store in New York City, complete with the world’s largest for-sale collection of Nike shoes

Nike recently debuted what it calls “instant purchase” in its new flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York. Customers use the Nike app to instantly purchase items, which they can then take home from the store with no questions asked. All they have to do is point the app at the item’s barcode. Small kiosks are littered throughout the store, with bags for shoppers to take and use as well as a place to ditch hangers.

Instant purchase is now rolling out to all Nike stores. It’s only a matter of time before cashierless tech moves out of sneaker-buying and into grocery-buying in a more meaningful way.

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