Amazon is expanding its physical footprint with another unconventional physical product, a shopping cart. Dash Cart actually looks like an aesthetic upgrade to a standard grocery store cart, but it's actually a smart version of tried and true food transportation.
With built-in touch screen and various other hardware components, it automatically detects what items are loaded and how many items are selected on the shelf. When you're done shopping, you can take your cart through a special lane that can be checked out digitally, without the staff having to make a phone call.
The idea is based on Amazon's approach to seeking convenience. Master in the digital realm and bring it to the real world. Amazon has been trying to establish brick and mortar presence for many years, applying all the lessons it has gained from developing Alexa-based products, including microwaves and wall clocks, and acquiring Whole Foods and expanding the Amazon Go store network. This effort has resulted in hybrid products that connect digital and physical only in small and experimental bursts.
Dash Cart comes first to Amazon grocery store near Woodland Hills in Los Angeles. This store, which was first confirmed last year, is not an Amazon Go store. This means no cameras, sensors and other equipment are built into the ceiling to automatically detect items off the shelf. Instead, this is an everyday standard grocery store, there are only smart Amazon grocery carts available. The store is in operation to process online grocery orders, but the physical space has not been released yet. Amazon said it plans to open a store later this year. The store joins Amazon's network of existing Whole Foods locations and a large Amazon Go grocery store that opened in Seattle in February.
Given the second Go Grocery plan in more than 24 Go stores and works in the Redmond area of Washington, it's not clear why Amazon is choosing a more traditional store. On the one hand, Go models can be difficult to scale to the size needed for a full-service grocery store. Seattle's Go Grocery is on the smaller side, and the new Woodland Hills location is on the site of the old toy “R” Us and is much larger. There are also privacy concerns, and the Go-style tracking and surveillance approach may not be as satisfying as the smart shopping carts consumers should choose to use.
In other words, extending a cashier-free approach from a privacy or technical point of view is a challenge Amazon is trying to overcome, and the cart seems to do this on a small scale manageable fashion. Currently, Amazon is not ready to use dash cart technology in addition to short grocery trips. So the device can handle up to about 2 bags, but it can't handle the entire shopping cart yet. This means there is a standard cart and a standard checkout lane for all customers shopping in the Woodland Hills store for more than a dash cart allows.
However, Dilip Kumar of Amazon, vice president of physical retail and technology, Verge says that everything is fair, including agricultural products and other foods not included in traditional packaging. “[The Dash Cart] has cameras, scales, computer vision and weight sensors to determine the quantity of items as well as items,” he says. For items like apples, you can measure the weight and add it to your order by entering the item's price lookup code before placing the item in the shopping cart via the touch screen of the shopping cart itself.
The shopping cart processes the order at the end of the trip. Start your grocery trip after logging in to your Amazon account for the first time on your phone. The cart has a built-in coupon scanner and supports Amazon's Alexa shopping list feature. After shopping, Amazon says that with a dedicated dash cart lane, you only need to leave the store without processing payments or waiting for payment lines.
Amazon does not say whether this cart will make a cart at the Woodland Hills store. This is because companies generally don't talk about new locations or future plans for real grocery store expansion. However, if Dash Cart is popular with consumers, Amazon may release this product elsewhere. For example, it's easy to see how these devices work in Whole Foods stores and help reduce checkout time. However, in some cases, if the cart is working properly and advertising, you may be waiting to use the cart itself.