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Amazon’s retail biometrics gain footholds but automated store concept struggles

Report highlights ups and downs of ‘Just Walk Out’ technology
Amazon’s retail biometrics gain footholds but automated store concept struggles

Amazon is said not to have found sufficient uptake of its ‘Just Walk Out’ technology by physical retail stores compared to the ambitions it had for the biometric self-checkout system when it launched in 2020.

Just Walk Out is a system designed to simplify the shopping experience by helping customers get in and out of stores quickly and seamlessly, using palm biometrics and mobile payments.

An article by The Information notes that despite the efforts of Amazon to popularize the system among other big retailers, just a few of them have deployed it. The publication adds that Amazon itself has deployed the technology in over 20 Amazon Go stores, over 40 fresh grocery stores and two whole foods stores.

An Amazon spokesman person told the outlet that companies operating in 12 sports stadiums have installed the tech in 30 of their stores, along with deployments at 12 airports and the University of Texas at Arlington.

There is an apparent lack of interest in the deployment of the technology due to the effort required for its integration, as well as cost, writes The Information quoting sources, some of them unnamed. In some cases, stores have to close for long periods to have the system of networked cameras and automated smart gates installed, the article indicates.

One other thing the Just Walk Out system still struggles with is the huge number of staff still required for manual reviews to enable the system to work more accurately. With the system, staff are required to help review transactions from videos to facilitate pricing and payment, which may require additional investment.

The company had set a target of using just between 20-50 persons for video reviews per 1,000 sales by mid last year, but up to 700 human reviews were still needed per 1,000 sales at that time.

Operating Just Walk Out also incurs further cost and effort as it appears a little more difficult to use than other self-scanning checkout systems preferred by some retailers, according to The Information.

The challenge for securing more market clients for Just Walk Out technology, the report notes, is getting bigger with the emergence of startups offering similar ‘cashierless’ checkout services.

Starbucks trials palm biometrics at coffee shop

The Amazon One palm biometrics solution used in Just Walk Out appears to be gaining more traction for in-person retail payments than the complete automated retail platform.

Coffee chain Starbucks is trialing palm biometrics payment with the Amazon One system at one of its coffee shops at Edmonds, Washington, in the north of Seattle. The community has mostly older people with the average age said to be 45.

Forbes reports that the results of the trail have so far shown mixed reactions, with some of them suggesting dissatisfaction with the palm biometrics method.

The outlet notes that although Americans generally prefer biometrics, older citizens appear to be less comfortable using them for payment.

Bakery company Panera also recently added the Amazon One palm vein biometrics solution to its MyPanera loyalty program to facilitate placement of orders as well as access to personalized rewards.

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