Amazon’s new smart shopping cart lets you pay without a cashier

Amazon is expanding its real-world footprint with another unconventional physical product: a shopping cart. While it certainly looks like an aesthetic upgrade to your standard grocery cart, the Dash Cart, as it’s called, is actually a smart take on the proven food hauler.

It is equipped with a touchscreen and other miscellaneous hardware components to automatically detect the items you place inside and even the number of items you have chosen on the shelf. When you are done shopping, you are allowed to take the cart through a special lane that digitally controls you without a human cashier calling you.

The idea builds on Amazon’s approach of trying to leverage the convenience it masters in the digital realm and bring it into the real world. For years, Amazon has tried to apply all the learning it has gained from developing products powered by Alexa, including microwaves and wall clocks, and to establish a physical presence through its acquisition of Whole. Foods and the growth of the Amazon Go store network. These efforts are now translating into hybrid products that link digital and physical, if only in small experimental bursts.

The Dash Cart arrives first in the Amazon grocery store in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The store, first confirmed last year, is not an Amazon Go store, which means it doesn’t have the cameras, sensors, and other gear built into the ceiling to automatically detect what items you pick up. shelves. Instead, it’s your standard, everyday grocery store, but it has some smart Amazon-made grocery carts that you can use. The store is operational for online grocery order fulfillment, but the physical space is not yet open to the public; Amazon has announced plans to open the store later this year. The store joins Amazon’s existing Whole Foods network of locations and its larger Amazon Go grocery store which opened in Seattle in February.

It’s unclear why Amazon is opting for a more traditional store, given its more than two dozen Go stores and a second Go Grocery slated for the Redmond, Washington area. On the one hand, the Go model may be difficult to scale to the size needed for a full-service grocery store; the Go Grocery store in Seattle is smaller, while the new Woodland Hills location is apparently on the site of an old Toys “R” Us, which is definitely a lot bigger. There’s also the issue of privacy, and whether the Go format’s tracking and surveillance approach might not be as acceptable as a smart shopping cart that a consumer should choose to use.

Photo: Amazon

That said, it seems that scaling its cashier-less approach, either from a privacy or technical perspective, is a challenge that Amazon is trying to overcome, and the cart is. designed to do it in a small and manageable way. At this time, Amazon isn’t ready to use Dash Cart technology beyond discreet grocery trips. Thus, the device can handle up to about two bags of items, but it cannot yet make a full cart. This means the Woodland Hills store will have standard carts and standard payment lanes for all customers who purchase more than the Dash Cart allows.

But aside from that, Amazon’s Dilip Kumar, vice president of physical retail and technology for the company, said The edge everything else is a fair game, including products and other food items that are not contained in traditional packaging. “[The Dash Cart] has a ring of cameras, a scale, and computer vision and weight sensors to determine not only the item, but the quantity of the item, ”he says. For an item like, say, an apple, the touchscreen on the cart itself allows you to enter the item’s price search code before placing it in the cart to be weighed and added to your order.

The cart processes your order at the end of the trip only because you first signed into your Amazon account on your phone and scanned it at the start of the grocery trip. The cart also has a built-in coupon scanner and supports Amazon’s Alexa shopping lists feature. When you’re done shopping, Amazon says dedicated Dash cart lanes allow you to leave the store without processing payments or waiting in a checkout line.

Amazon does not say if this cart will roll out of the Woodland Hills store, as the company does not typically talk about new locations or even future plans for expanding its physical grocery store. But there’s a good chance that, should the Dash Cart be a hit with consumers, Amazon could roll it out elsewhere. It is easy to see, for example, how such a device could work in a Whole Foods store and help reduce payment times, although there may even be some wait to use the carts themselves, if they do. works as well as advertised.


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Peggy P. Gilmore