ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Amazon has upgraded its Dash Cart with newer features and increased durability. The carts will be available at the Whole Foods Market store in Westford, Massachusetts, in the coming months, followed by additional Whole Foods Market stores and many Amazon Fresh stores in the U.S.
"As many of our customers return to their in-store grocery shopping routines, it's exciting to introduce new and unique ways for them to shop our stores," said Leandro Balbinot, chief technology officer for Whole Foods Market. "We're thrilled that the newest version of Dash Cart will debut in our Westford store and can't wait to hear the feedback from our customers there."
The original version of the Dash Carts were meant for quick shopping trips, so they only held two grocery bags, and customers were not able to bring the carts to their vehicles. Customers can now take the updated Dash Cart into the parking lot, since Amazon has made the lighter-weight carts weather resistant.
New Dash Cart Features
The new version of the carts now has a delicates shelf as well as a lower shelf for oversized items. The cart also weighs produce quicker by stabilizing through Amazon-created algorithms that can determine signal from noise, such as the cart moving through the store. This allows the cart to calculate weight without asking shoppers to stop the cart.
Amazon increased the carts’ ability to more precisely determine where the cart is in the store to better show nearby products and deals on the Dash Cart screen. Shoppers can also type in an item name instead of a four-digit PLU code. The carts feature an extended all-day battery life that requires less charging, too.
To use the new version of the Dash Cart, shoppers log in through a QR code in the Amazon or Whole Foods Market app. From there, shoppers place their bags (if using them) in the cart and start shopping, scanning their items using one of the cameras near the handlebar of the Dash Cart. The cart uses a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to help verify each item placed in—and removed from—the cart.
The Dash Cart’s screen shows a real-time receipt of all items in the cart. When shoppers are ready to check out, they exit the store through the Amazon Dash Cart lane, and their payment is processed using the credit card associated with their Amazon account. Shoppers will receive an emailed receipt shortly after leaving the store.
“Our goal with the Dash Cart has always been to make in-store shopping more convenient by eliminating the need to stand in checkout lines or unload and reload items at self-checkout stations, and we hope shoppers enjoy these updates as much as we think they will,” wrote Amazon.
Ninety percent of people used unattended retail as much as they had prior to the pandemic or more during the pandemic, and more convenience retailers are exploring ways to eliminate friction for customers, including skipping the checkout line.
Last December, bp partnered with Grabango to integrate checkout-free technology into seven ampm stores in Northern California and three Amoco locations in Western Pennsylvania. MAPCO is launching checkout-free services in two Tennessee stores by fall 2022, and Circle K partnered with Standard AI to install an AI-powered checkout-free system in one of its stores in Tempe, Arizona.
Choice Market convenience stores in Denver offer self-checkout, walkout technology and an app, which all sync and communicate with each other. In early 2022, Choice c-stores and St. Louis-based Health Hospitality Partners partnered to create the first autonomous markets in a health-care setting.
NACS offers a free webinar on self-checkout innovations at c-stores. Pre- and post-pay fuel transactions, loyalty, cash payments and age verification are also discussed.
Read more about frictionless checkout systems in “Self-Checkout Strategies” in the March issue of NACS Magazine.