Amazon's cashierless tech could be ready for full-size supermarkets

Planning documents for a Connecticut location include a similar setup to Amazon Go outlets.

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A worker inspects produce during a tour of at an Amazon checkout-free, large format grocery store in Seattle, Washington, U.S. February 21, 2020. Picture taken February 21, 2020.  REUTERS/Jason Redmond
JASON REDMOND / reuters

It seems Amazon is finally ready to bring its cashierless grocery store tech to full-size supermarkets. Planning documents Bloomberg spotted for a location in Connecticut boast features akin to those in Amazon Go stores, including entry and exit gates and ceiling-mounted racks that support camera arrays, as well as space for server racks.

Shoppers at Go stores, which have been around since 2018, swipe their phones when they pass through the entry gates. The cameras and shelf sensors track what they place in their cart. They’re automatically charged for the items they take when they leave the store.

Using the tech in a store with around 7,000 square feet of retail space (as the largest Go Grocery stores have) is less complex than having it in a supermarket. The planned location has a floor space that’s almost three times larger than Go Grocery outlets and it would welcome far more people at once.

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Still, it seems Amazon has been able to scale the tech sufficiently and in a way that’s cost-effective enough to use it in supermarkets. Rival companies working on cashierless tech have said they’re a year or two away from bringing it to supermarkets, so it appears Amazon is getting the jump on them.

Although Amazon isn’t named in the plans, the schematics are said to be very similar to documents the company has filed for other stores. Construction on the Bloomfield supermarket, which may be an Amazon Fresh location, is underway. Amazon has opened 12 Fresh stores and it's said to have dozens more in the works across the US.

This week, Amazon announced it would bring its tech that allows you to pay by scanning your palm to Whole Foods stores, starting with a location in Seattle. The company has been using the tech at convenience and bookstores, along with 4-star outlets.

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