- Whole Foods Market is deepening its checkout-free technology refresh by adding Amazon One, which lets users pay with their palm prints, to more of its stores.
- The Amazon-owned grocery chain added the technology to a store in Austin, Texas, this week and plans to bring it to its six additional locations in the surrounding area "in the coming weeks," according to an email from an Amazon spokesperson.
- The announcement comes at a time when Whole Foods has experienced yo-yo-ing traffic at its stores during the pandemic and its parent company continues to integrate cutting-edge checkout technology across its grocery stores.
After piloting Amazon One in its own hometown of Seattle, Amazon is now bringing the customer identification technology to Whole Foods' home base.
The grocer's newly opened store in Austin's Arbor Trails shopping center will be the first in the area to get the new technology. Other stores are located in the city's Domain, East Austin, Lamar, Gateway, Bee Cave and Cedar Park areas.
Whole Foods first welcomed Amazon One, which launched in September 2020, at a Seattle store a year ago. Since then, the specialty grocer has rolled out the technology to eight more Seattle-area locations, a new store in Sherman Oaks, California, and a recently reopened store in Washington, D.C., according to Amazon's website.
The bio-authentication tool uses computer vision technology to identify consumers based on the unique characteristics of their palms when they hover them over an Amazon One device. The device then triggers payment using a credit or debit card that shoppers have linked to the service.
Amazon is also using the tool in tandem with its Just Walk Out seamless checkout technology in some Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go locations, where it serves as a way of identifying shoppers before they enter the sales floor.
Amazon and Whole Foods are leaning into the convenience and speed of the palm-reading tool for shoppers. "We built Amazon One to offer a quick, reliable, and secure way for people to identify themselves or authorize a transaction while moving seamlessly through their day," Thi Luu, director of product management for Amazon physical retail technology, said in the emailed announcement.
As Amazon looks to grab market share in grocery, it's turning to proprietary checkout technology, including Amazon One and its Just Walk Out system, as a competitive edge. A few weeks ago, Whole Foods opened its first and second stores, in Washington, D.C. and Sherman Oaks, California, respectively, that offer Just Walk Out.
Amazon Fresh stores, meanwhile, incorporate either the company's smart cart, known as the Dash Cart, or its Just Walk Out technology, though more of the chain's new locations are favoring the latter approach. On Thursday, the company announced in an email it is opening three new Fresh grocery stores in the Southern California area that feature Just Walk Out technology.
Amazon is zeroing in on grocery following its recently announced decision to close retail locations that carried books, electronics and other non-grocery products.
While Amazon is offering its Just Walk Out and Amazon One capabilities to other businesses and locations, like airports and sports arenas, those checkout-free technologies and the Amazon Dash Cart are still unique offerings for grocery shoppers. The approach could give Amazon and its grocery banners a competitive advantage as other companies explore cashierless options. Instacart recently started offering smart carts to its retail partners, while a growing number of convenience chains and grocers with smaller footprints are adding ceiling-mounted cameras and artificial intelligence to track and tally up what customers are buying.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional information about Amazon One working in tandem with Just Walk Out technology.