Just Walk Out – Just in time or just too soon?
This the seventh in a series of articles from members of RetailWire’s BrainTrust panel speculating on coming retail trends and developments for 2023.
Amazon recently installed Just Walk Out (JWO) at a grocery retailer it does not own for the first time. 2023 will see even more buzz around the technology.
Billed as a “frictionless” store experience for consumers — and, under the covers, an excellent expense reduction tool, especially for grocers — the technology still faces major questions:
- There’s no evidence thus far that the technology is scalable, despite Amazon’s claims.
- The FAQs page on JWO’s dedicated website says, “The installation of the technology can take as little as a few weeks from the time we have access to your store.” A few weeks is a long time to disrupt a grocer.
- Once up and running, the system will need a lot of maintenance, and that’s on the retailer.
- JWO’s website is also clear that customer service issues (e.g., phone calls on being charged for unbought items) are the responsibility of the retailer.
- What are the implications on shrink? Will devices that blind cameras from shopper activities soon arrive?
It’s also not clear that this will really “delight your customers.” The philosophical question here is, how do you define frictionless?
If I’m running in for a single item, JWO is awesome. If I’m doing weekly shopping for a family of four, how frictionless is it for me to bag my own items, do my own scanning (if necessary), and load and unload carts? Won’t home delivery or curbside pickup be more frictionless?
So, I predict there will be pilots galore with Amazon’s JWO and versions from other technology providers. But just as RFID before it, the pilots will go on for a long time and adoption at the end of 2023 will remain very low.
Some consumers will embrace it, but I also don’t think it’s economically feasible yet. Maybe we’ll see examples of retailers using it and customers accepting it by 2025, but I think we’ll find out it’s still too early for mass adoption.
- Just Walk Out
- Amazon brings its Just Walk Out technology to 1st outside grocer – Winsight Grocery Business
- Elevate your retail experience with Just Walk Out technology – Amazon
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Amazon’s Just Walk Out and similar checkout-free shopping technologies making a significant breakthrough in 2023? Do you agree that the technology still has to prove its appeal to consumers and ROI for stores?