Amazon Go technology could come to Whole Foods in 2021

  • Amazon is reportedly aiming to bring its autonomous checkout technology to Whole Foods stores in 2021.
  • This would give the ecommerce giant the opportunity to showcase its offerings and recruit merchants to license its tech.

The ecommerce titan plans to start rolling out the technology it uses at its Amazon Go stores to Whole Foods locations in Q2 2021, according to the New York Post. Bringing the technology, which tracks shoppers and products so consumers can grab their items and leave without stopping to physically check out, to Whole Foods’ over 500 locations would be a major accomplishment for Amazon because it’d prove that it can retrofit existing stores with its technology.

Store Concept Square Footage Comparison

Amazon plans to start rolling out the technology it uses at its Amazon Go stores to Whole Foods locations in 2021.

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This has been a challenge for the entire industry, and doing so would mean Amazon can scale its technology for much bigger stores. For context, the 10,400-square-foot Amazon Go grocery store is the largest location to use Amazon’s technology, and Whole Foods stores are often over 40,000 square feet.

Whole Foods could serve as a testing ground for Amazon to convince merchants to license its in-store technologies.

  • The etailer has a limited need for in-store innovations, so its focus is likely on licensing its technologies to other merchants. In addition to the technology Amazon uses at its Go stores, the firm has reportedly developed shopping carts that use autonomous checkout technology and hand-scanning biometric payments — all of which could create a more seamless in-store shopping experience. But Amazon’s business isn’t focused on brick-and-mortar — its physical stores brought in $17 billion in sales in 2019, while its online stores racked up $141 billion — so it likely hopes to license its tech to other merchants to boost its revenue and possibly access more in-store data. In fact, it already started to license Amazon Go’s technology, dubbed “Just Walk Out,” bringing it to an airport retailer.
  • Amazon can use Whole Foods to prove to merchants that its technologies work and are worth licensing. Retailers could be wary of working with Amazon since it has relatively little experience with brick-and-mortar technologies and may be competing with them through its online marketplace. But Whole Foods’ hundreds of stores enable Amazon to show if its tech works and appeals to consumers in live retail environments, potentially convincing merchants to license Amazon’s offerings.

If the pandemic stretches on, Amazon’s offerings could attract retailer interest. The coronavirus pandemic has raised interest in contactless payment experiences, and autonomous checkout should be particularly appealing since it removes the physical checkout process entirely.

We predicted that autonomous checkout technology providers would miss out on this opportunity this year due to technological shortcomings — but if Amazon rolls out its tech in 2021, and the pandemic continues, merchants may be eager to adopt Amazon’s offerings and provide consumers with a truly contactless checkout experience.

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