Online retail giant Amazon is once again at the front lines of innovation in its quest to eradicate waiting in line as it begins testing new smart shopping carts.
The company recently announced live testing for the cart—thematically named “Dash Cart” (similar to its less than successful cousin “Dash Button“) — in its Woodland Hills, California grocery store location later this year.
According to Amazon, the Dash Cart uses built-in scanners, sensors, and algorithms to determine what items a user has placed into the cart. When the customer exits through the specific cart lane, sensors identify the cart and process the users’ payment through the credit card linked to their Amazon account.
The cart includes a screen where shoppers can access their “Alexa Shopping List”, check off items, view their subtotal, and even use a scanner for coupons.
“Our primary motivation for building this was to be able to save customers time,” said Dilip Kumar, vice president of Amazon’s physical retail and technology. “The alternative solutions are standing in the express checkout lanes or fumbling through self-checkout stations.”
The catch? To use the Dash Cart, customers must have an Amazon account and Amazon app, where a QR code will allow access to use the cart. This means that anyone without an Amazon account or smartphone cannot currently shop with the Dash Cart. Additionally, the cart has a recommended capacity of just two grocery bags, so shoppers can only utilize the cart for short trips.
Still, the announcement comes at a unique time in consumer shopping habits, where the ever-present threat of coronavirus has changed how people shop and how retailers do business.
Contactless payment is one method deployed by businesses to mitigate virus concerns. Companies previously pushed the technology as a convenience for consumers by speeding up the shopping experience, but current health concerns have given contactless payment a renewed relevance.
In 2018 Amazon changed the grocery game with its introduction of Amazon Go stores where customers simply exit the store after selecting items. Other companies have followed suit. Delivery robots and drones, contactless card and phone payments, and a rise in online orders for curbside pickup are just a few innovations making headway in the market during the pandemic.
“I do believe this is an opportunity,” said Oz Alon, co-founder and CEO of HoneyBook, a financial tech startup in San Francisco. “This is a huge event in the world, people are going to change their behaviors and a lot of things that have struggled for adoption will get a new push.”
* Photo from aboutamazon.com