Whole Foods may go cashierless next year, according to new reports about Amazon’s high-end supermarket chain.
The tech giant first ditched cashiers in 2018, when it introduced its Amazon Go convenience stores.
The stores use cameras and sensors to track customers as they shop, then walk out without ever stopping at a register.
Now rumors are circulating that Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s retiring Chief of Consumer, wants to bring the technology to the upscale supermarket chain before he leaves in early 2021.
Critics say getting rid of checkout clerks is a ‘ruthless strategy’ that will cost thousands of jobs.
Amazon wants to bring its cashierless technology to Whole Foods next year, according to reports. The system, currently used in Amazon Go convenience stores, uses cameras and sensors to track customers as they pick items from the shelves. They can then leave without stopping at a register to check out
The New York Post reported that before getting his gold watch, the 53-year-old wants to launch more Amazon Go supermarkets nationwide.
Wilke also wants to institute the self-serve system at Whole Foods, which Amazon for $13.7 billion in 2017.
‘Amazon Go proved out the tech, but they can’t figure out how to make those stores profitable,’ an unnamed source said, according to The Post. ‘But Whole Foods prints cash, and with healthy margins, too.’
The technology reportedly would be introduced in Whole Foods locations in the second quarter of 2021, just after Wilke steps down.
The New York Post reports Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s Chief of Consumer, wants to bring the technology to Whole Foods before he retires in early 2021. Wilke has been with the company for more than two decades and helped transform Amazon from an online bookstore into a global colossus
The new Amazon Go Grocery concept store opened in Seattle this past February.
Like the Go convenience stores, customers scan an app before entering and bag their own groceries. There is no cash register – staff are only on hand to stock shelves and manage a coffee station.
The new rumor contradicts reports from February, when Amazon Go VP Dilip Kumar told Recode there were ‘no plans to put this in a Whole Foods for now.’
Going cashierless adds convenience, but it’s not without its detractors.
The technology would also mean significant layoffs at Whole Foods, as shoppers would no longer need cashiers to ring them up.
When Amazon announced it was making its cashless technology available to retailers, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union said it was ‘part of a ruthless strategy to eliminate as many good jobs as possible,’ The Verge reported.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has called Amazon’s cashierless technology ‘part of a ruthless strategy to eliminate as many good jobs as possible.’ In addition, some cities and states have banned retailers from not accepting cash
In January, New York City banned restaurants and other businesses from not accepting cash, claiming it discriminated against less affluent consumers who didn’t have credit, debit or digital payment systems.
‘Whatever your reasons, consumers should have the power to choose their preferred method of payment,’ city councilman Ritchie Torres said at the time.
Several other cities and states, including New Jersey, Massachusetts and San Francisco, have similar bans.
It’s not clear how Amazon would circumvent these laws.
At Amazon Go stores, customers scan an app before entering and shopping. Shoppers bag their own groceries and there is no cash register. Staff are on hand only to stock shelves and manage a coffee station
Wilke helped transform Amazon from an online bookstore into a global colossus. He’s been with the company for more than two decades and was regarded as a potential successor to founder and CEO Jeff Bezos before announcing his retirement.
As his responsibilities grew Wilke became responsible running not just Amazon.com, but the Whole Foods chain and the physical Amazon bookstores.
Within the company Wilke is often referred to as ‘the other Jeff’ to differentiate him from Bezos.
HOW DO AMAZON GO STORES WORK?
To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile.
Ready-to-eat lunch items greet shoppers when they enter.
Deeper into the store, shoppers can find a small selection of grocery items, including meats and meal kits.
An Amazon employee checks IDs in the store’s wine and beer section.
Sleek black cameras monitoring from above and weight sensors in the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people take.
If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged.
If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.
Much of the store will feel familiar to shoppers, aside from the check-out process.
Amazon, famous for dynamic pricing online, has printed price tags just as traditional brick-and-mortar stores do.