The Woodland Hills Amazon Fresh grocery store location. Jeff Graham via Photowalk
The world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, has now made its move into grocery shopping and produce. They first introduced grocery food delivery in Europe in early 2017 and in the United States later that year, allowing customers to order groceries to be delivered to their door or for pick up right from your phone in a matter of hours. It was a novel concept and since then they have continued to improve by adding more stores and features to the service, making it a better experience for customers.
This year has kickstarted the implementation of their new Amazon Fresh grocery stores and the second and biggest location in the world opened up in Irvine on Oct. 22. Its stand out differences from other grocery stores are their fully automated Amazon Dash Cart, lower prices on food from their kitchen and bakery and constant deals on many national brand items. There is also Amazon Alexa integration that helps find items around the store from designated kiosks and track shopping lists customers make through the Amazon app that checks off items as they shop.
As customers walk in they have a choice between two carts, the regular cart you use at every grocery store or their new Amazon Dash Cart. The Dash Cart has some impressive technology behind it and is a smaller cart that fits around two to four bags and is made specifically for shorter grocery stops.
The back of the cart has a screen and a QR scanner, the scanner will read the QR code on the Amazon app in order to link with the customer’s Amazon account to start shopping. The main basket has sensors and cameras all around the cart so that as soon as an item is placed in the cart the item appears on the screen indicating that an item is being purchased. Items that are not wanted simply can be removed and the sensors will detect the action and take it off the total at checkout.
Each item of produce has a code that is inputted when it’s placed in the cart, which measures the weight and then charges the customer accordingly. The Alexa kiosks are located throughout the store in case customers are having trouble finding an item, they can simply walk up and say for example, “Alexa, where can I find canola oil?” The Alexa kiosk then shows various options and the aisles each item is located, alongside an image to help identify the item easier.
To conclude shopping simply walk through one of their designated Dash Lanes and payment will automatically be processed and a receipt will be sent to the customer’s email. It’s a new, fast and convenient way to shop when people want to get in and go without waiting in line.
Other features and services include their own Amazon Customer Service and Returns Center, where orders from either regular Amazon products or Fresh orders can be picked up or returned for free. There’s also a full serviced butcher, carvery, deli and bakery and food bars with pre-packaged food both of the hot and cold varieties, as well as Amazon’s pre-packaged meal kits from their Amazon Kitchen service that can be made at home.
“It’s cool but nothing I’d get used to,” said Alexander Angeles, a local Lake Forest resident. “Call me old fashion but this whole Alexa stuff and sensors is too much, it’s not really necessary but it’s cool I suppose and prices ain’t bad.”
It’s a unique spin to many of the standard grocery stores around the county, the technology they have on offer made to make shopping even easier and faster is definitely something to pay attention to.
“It’s awesome honestly,” said Amani Faten, a local Irvine resident. “It’s super fast and convenient and for someone that pretty much always uses self-checkout and doesn’t like going through the line and stuff, this is a great alternative.”
In the next year or so Amazon is looking to open up even more locations since finding success and positive reception from their first two locations. They are looking to open locations in Fullerton, Whitter, Long Beach and Los Angeles, so maybe one day, Amazon Fresh stores will be just as common as local grocery stores.