Amazon removes its Just Walk Out technology from its stores


Has the American e-commerce giant made a mistake with its Just Walk Out technology? In any case, this is what the latest announcement suggests, namely to remove its technology which allows customers to skip checkout by scanning a QR code when they enter the store. Launched in 2016, the system was – at least in its early stages – described as a major innovation. Today, it is disappearing from all stores in the United States, only the United Kingdom plans to keep it.

Presenting this as a reorganization effort, Amazon plans to move from this artificial intelligence solution to a less expensive one, “Dash Carts”. These connected shopping carts offer customers a benefit similar to that offered by Just Walk Out technology, namely avoiding queues at the checkout.

Amazon Dash Cart – connected shopping cart

In detail, this solution offers to quickly enter and exit the store, and add, remove, weigh and adjust items on it, then avoid the queue at the checkout thanks to scanners and screens present in the shopping cart. Customers can also benefit from an on-screen receipt to track expenses.

AI yes, but not at any cost

Dash carts rely, among other things, on artificial intelligence to streamline the shopping experience and track product receipts in real time. This solution is on the one hand more economical in terms of technology – requiring fewer sensors and cameras than the technology it replaces – but also in terms of human resources. Indeed, to successfully deploy its Just Walk Out system quickly in its Fresh stores, Amazon had to hire human controllers who check remotely.

According to The Information, 700 sales of Just Walk Out out of 1000 required the intervention of human evaluators from 2022. A figure which far exceeds the internal objectives of Amazon, which wanted to achieve less than 50 evaluations per 1000 sales. The figure presented by the media was also contested by Amazon, without further details.

Humans, never far away

Our colleagues from Gizmodo point out on this subject that the system relies on more than 1,000 people in India who watch and label videos in order to guarantee the accuracy of the crates. Ultimately, Amazon didn’t really fully automate the system, cashiers were simply moved off-site to give consumers some semblance of autonomy.

At the same time, GeekWire reported that Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the cloud subsidiary of the American company – was cutting a few hundred jobs in its technology team from physical stores, according to internal emails. The layoffs would concern part of Amazon’s identity and checkout teams.

A strategic approach to conquer the supermarket market

Finally, Amazon announces that it wants to welcome a greater number of customers, particularly those who are not members of the firm. To do this, Amazon Fresh stores now include self-checkouts, which complement AI-driven Dash Carts with a manual option. This change of approach lifts the veil on the giant’s ambition to conquer a new market, namely that of the supermarket sector. And no matter the price, Amazon brings with it all the necessary technologies, starting with artificial intelligence.

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