Amazon’s Just Walk Out Tech Fails to Hit the Ground Running

In 2020, Amazon launched its biometric self-checkout system, Just Walk Out, to simplify the shopping experience by allowing customers to quickly and seamlessly pay using palm biometrics and mobile payments. However, a report by The Information, found that the technology has not seen the uptake Amazon was hoping for.

While the e-commerce giant has deployed the system in more than 20 Amazon Go stores, over 40 fresh grocery stores, and two Whole Foods stores, only a handful of big retailers have deployed it. The report indicates that the effort required for its integration and the cost of the system have deterred stores from adopting it.

The Just Walk Out system requires a considerable number of staff to oversee manual reviews and enable the system to work. For example, while the process—from the consumer’s perspective is cashierless—Amazon still needs staff on the backend to review video footage of the transactions to “facilitate pricing and payment.” In fact, Amazon initially set out to use roughly 20 to 50 employees per 1,000 sales by mid-2022. But quickly realized that figure was too low and ended up using up to 700 employees during that timeframe.

What’s more, The emergence of startups offering similar cashierless checkout services presents a challenge for Amazon in securing more market clients for Just Walk Out technology.

But despite these setbacks, the Amazon One palm biometrics solution used in Just Walk Out is gaining traction for in-person retail payments. Starbucks is trialing palm biometrics payment with the Amazon One system at one of its coffee shops in Edmonds, Washington. It’s also being trialed in various Panera locations, as well as Whole Foods locations.

The adoption of biometric self-checkout systems may not be as quick or straightforward as previously anticipated. Companies that have deployed the technology will need to invest considerable time and resources to address the challenges highlighted in the report. However, the potential benefits of such technologies are clear, and it’s likely that we will continue to see further developments in this space as retailers strive to deliver more efficient and streamlined shopping experiences for their customers.

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