Could Whole Foods soon be wholly without cashiers? Amazon is running experiments with its cashier-less technology, testing it out in a larger Seattle space to see if it can be used in its bigger stores, the Wall Street Journal reports. The company had previously said that it didn’t plan to use the technology at Whole Foods, but it also loves robots (workers, on the other hand, are afraid to take bathroom breaks) and, well, Whole Foods stores are bigger!
Amazon has already implemented its cashier-less technology at seven smaller Amazon Go stores in Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle. Putting the cashier-less technology to use in bigger stores is apparently more complicated because of higher ceilings and the greater variety of products. For example, the Amazon Go stores are 2,500 square feet compared to Whole Foods stores’ usual 40,000 square feet. The latter carries as many as 34,000 items, with sales heavy on produce that’s sold by weight and not uniform like packaged goods. If it does decide to implement the technology at Whole Foods, it wouldn’t be good news for employees, who have been trying to unionize the company.
Beyond this, it’s also worth noting that the technology is, well, creepy. Going to an Amazon Go store sounds like a scene out of Minority Report. After scanning a code on their phones to get in, customers are tracked by video cameras and other equipment that record what they take. This is how you pay, rather than at a cashier. Do you really want to be recorded rummaging through a pile of romanesco and fawning over kale? Didn’t think so.