Feb 23, 2022 - Economy

Amazon opens first Whole Foods with cashierless technology

Whole Foods sign on store with two people in the foreground walking with masks on

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

The first Whole Foods equipped with cashierless technology from Amazon opened today, allowing customers to avoid the register altogether.

Why it matters: The 21,500-sq.-ft. store demonstrates how much autonomous shopping has improved.  

  • Amazon, the grocer's parent company, has been experimenting and expanding its “Just Walk Out” system since at least 2016.
  • Smaller versions of its cashierless stores, Amazon Go, are about 1,200- and 2,300-sq.ft. in size, and the company opened a 25,000-sq.-ft version last year under its Amazon Fresh brand. 

Details: The new Whole Foods in Washington D.C. uses cameras, sensors and software similar to self-driving cars to track people and products throughout the store.

  • Shoppers who want to skip going through a checkout process of any kind can scan a QR code from their Amazon or Whole Foods app, their palm, or an Amazon-linked credit or debit card when they walk in, before they start putting groceries into their baskets.
  • Shoppers can still use self-checkout lanes, where cash, gift cards and supplemental nutrition program benefits are accepted. 
  • Amazon says "a comparable number" of workers as existing stores are staffed at the new location.

The big picture: Amazon is selling this technology to other grocers as stores look for ways to cut costs, including labor.

Go deeper