Amazon Tests Grab-and-Go Technology in Canadian Arenas

Early this October, Amazon finished deploying its grab-and-go technology in Calgary and Toronto stadiums to eliminate the checkout process.

The Just Walk Out (JWO) technology became available in the US in 2018 and is used in over 150 retailers. Amazon started testing the global adoption of the tech in areas with much higher consumer traffic than standard retail stores.

Sports stadiums make for an ideal testing ground because the long wait times are their biggest hurdle in selling snacks. With grab-and-go, someone can go in and out of a snack stall in under 10 seconds.

To use JWO, stores need to cover their ceilings with a web of cameras and line their shelves with sensors. The system then uses computer vision for monitoring while combining machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to track and interpret.

Whenever a customer picks up an item, the program adds it to a virtual shopping cart and charges the customer. Jon Jenkins, Vice President of Amazon’s JWO Technologies, guaranteed that no facial recognition software is involved.

However, Jenkins admits that Amazon’s cashierless technology does collect purchase information and shares it with the partnered third-party retailer. Doing so gives the business insight into the demand for its offerings and how its customers behave.

Grab-and-Go Gets RFID Upgrade from Amazon

Amazon’s grab-and-go uses a mix of systems to automatically charge customers who took out items from an affiliated store. However, this process does not work for product categories that require sold items to be boxed or packaged in bags.

For example, when customers shop for apparel, they usually feel the material and try it on. Afterward, they put the product back on the shelf or take it to the counter to wrap it.

To enable JWO to accommodate such purchases, Amazon has added radio frequency identification (RFID) to the mix. The technology keeps track of the tags attached to the items instead of the products.

That allows the system to identify bought items even if the buyer had them in bags or already wore them. Earlier this year, Amazon successfully examined RFID integration into its JWO at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena.

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