Amazon Fresh watches your every move while you shop

Cameras and sensors track grocery purchases with the new "Just Walk Out" feature.

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Photo: Leon Neal (Getty Images)

Self-checkout at grocery stores is nothing new, and with the pandemic raging on we’ve all grown accustomed to scanning our own items, waiting for a store attendant to verify that you’re old enough to buy that box of wine, then going on our merry way. Well, new Amazon grocery stores are taking it one step further, eliminating checking out entirely.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the latest round of Amazon Fresh stores offer a “Just Walk Out” feature. In the Westmont location just outside of Chicago this is possible due to overhead cameras and sensors that track every purchase. Customers register their visit through an Amazon account and then go about their shopping and at the end of the trip the purchases are charged to that Amazon account.

This is an upgrade to the Amazon Go stores that swept the nation a few years because of A) the expansive inventory of grocery Items beyond snacks and sandwiches and B) the advancement in Amazon’s technology. Don’t worry about picking up an item to check it out—if you put it back, the cameras know. Employees say this is because of vigorous testing and technology tweaking and not because the cameras have a mind of their own. We’ll see.

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For those who are wary about this new process, there is still an option to do things the old fashioned way—just enter the store through a gate called “traditional shopping.” Alternatively, if you want to embrace the Amazon technology even further, the Fresh stores also offer Alexa stations to ask about wine pairings for your grocery haul or figure which aisle has what you’re looking for. And of course there is a place to pick up, order, or return Amazon packages.

This doesn’t mean fewer employees at these stores, at least not yet. Lionel Triplett, the manager at the Westmont location says that this new service will just free up employees to do things like keeping aisles well-stocked and tidy. There apparently aren’t robots who are able to do that quite yet.