Amazon is taking its grab-and-go shopping model a step further by launching the Dash Cart later this year.
The Dash Cart will first be available at Amazon’s Woodland Hills, California store in the Los Angeles area. Designed for small and medium shopping trips, customers can essentially log into the cart using their smartphone and Amazon app.
Each cart holds two shopping bags. Amazon says a combination of “computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion” allows the cart to recognize the items customers place into it. When they’re finished shopping, customers can go through the Dash Cart lane and return the cart without having to visit a register. They’re then emailed a receipt.
The Dash Cart follows the launch of Amazon Go convenience stores in 2018. Customers scan a QR code in the Amazon app at the door, enter the store, grab snacks or on-the-go meals and leave. They’re also emailed a receipt.
Since the initial launch, Amazon has opened 26 Amazon Go stores across Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. The Woodland Hills store will be part of a chain of Amazon Go Grocery stores, with layouts similar to conventional grocery stores, set to launch this year.
Dilip Kumar, Amazon’s vice president of physical retail and technology, told CNBC the Dash Carts have a variety of cameras and sensors, but Amazon made sure the carts resemble traditional shopping carts, apart from a display screen near the push bar.
“We try to hide that complexity away from customers so you don’t have to learn any new shopping behaviors,” Kumar said. “Once you’re signed in with your phone, you can put the phone away and your normal way that you shop stays the same.”
Amazon’s advancement of cashierless technology presents new possibilities for impulse sales, and by extension, candy sales. If it’s that easy to put the items you need in the cart, won’t it be even easier to toss in a candy bar? A pack of gum? Additionally, customers likely won’t see the receipt until after they've left the store, so they probably won’t watch their totals as closely.
This technology also presents questions for packaging. A video on Amazon’s website appears to show that the cameras and sensors rely on barcodes to identify the product, not unlike traditional cash registers. But smart shopping continues to evolve, and it’s likely other retailers will implement cashierless technologies in the future, in one form or another. Brand owners will have to make sure their packaging is compatible with them.
And since Amazon is collecting consumer data 24/7, the Dash Cart presents another avenue for understanding the customer, what their needs are and how they shop. This offers Amazon’s partners the opportunity for targeted suggestions, and hopefully, new and repeat purchases.
Who knows what Amazon will come up with next, but hopefully whatever it is, it benefits manufacturers and brand owners.