Amazon Fresh has expanded its Southern California footprint with the opening of a new supermarket in Encino, featuring the company’s “Just Walk Out” technology.
The 44,000-square-foot store, at 16325 Ventura Blvd., is the 16th Fresh in California. It will employ hundreds of full- and part-time workers at a starting wage of $16.40 an hour, the company said.
How it works
Customers who opt for Just Walk Out shopping can enter the store by scanning the in-store QR code in their Amazon app, using Amazon One or by inserting a credit or debit card to open Just Walk Out gates.
Once inside, anything they take off the shelf is automatically added to a virtual cart, and anything a customer puts back comes out of it. When they’re finished shopping they simply scan or insert their entry method again to exit and they’re good to go.
The technology works with the help of hundreds of cameras, weight gauges and scanners that monitor what a customer removes from shelves and puts into their carts.
Customers, including non-Amazon members, can also use a traditional checkout lane, and those buying alcohol move through a separate, one-way aisle where they show an ID to an employee and exit through a gate.
Amazon Fresh carries a wide assortment of national brands and produce, meat and seafood, as well as a range of prepared foods made fresh in-store every day — from fresh-baked bread and made-to-order pizzas, to rotisserie chickens and hot sandwiches.
The supermarket chain will offer giveaways, free samples and discounts to shoppers this weekend to celebrate the Encino store’s opening. Prime members can save up to 20% on some store items, the company said.
Amazon Fresh operates a total of 57 stores, including 39 in the U.S. and 18 in the U.K.
Other Amazon Fresh stores can be found in North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Whittier, Mission Viejo, La Verne, Murrieta, Irvine, La Habra and Long Beach, among other locations.
Jeff Helbling, vice president of Amazon Fresh Stores, said the company’s efforts to evolve its grocery experience into a “seamless, omnichannel offering” have been well-received by both shoppers and the grocery industry.
“We have exciting plans for Amazon Fresh stores this year and in the future,” Helbling told Supermarket News in an email interview earlier this year.
Automation on the rise
Other retailers have also shifted some of their operations to a cashier-free model.
Walmart and Sam’s Club have a Scan & Go program that allows customers to scan products with their smartphones and pay with a credit card registered on the app.
7-Eleven has a similar Mobile Checkout program, and Aldi opened its first checkout-free grocery store earlier this year in London. Like Amazon Fresh, Aldi’s Shop & Go app uses motion-sensor cameras and weight sensors to track what’s picked up by customers, who are then charged through the app after they leave.