Amazon Dash Carts Roll In New Frictionless Retail Experience

Lisa Johnston
Editor-in-Chief, CGT
Lisa Johnston profile picture
Amazon Dash carts feature a display that shows a shopper's running tally or shopping list.

Amazon’s Dash cart is the company’s latest tool in the frictionless shopping battle, a challenge that has only been spurred on by COVID-19 and consumers’ desire for contactless transactions.  

To use the smart cart, which can hold two grocery bags, customers scan a QR code using their Amazon account on their smartphone. It leverages computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items placed within it. When the customer exits through a specially designated lane, the sensors ID the cart, payment is charged to their Amazon account, and a receipt is emailed.  

The cart, which will first be available at the Amazon grocery store in Woodland Hills, CA this year, includes a screen that displays the customer’s subtotal and their Alexa Shopping List, while a coupon scanner can apply store coupons. Items without barcodes are registered by entering the PLU code on the display and confirming the weight.

Amazon has been a leader in cashierless retail — opening its Go stores to the public in 2018 and then its full-scale Go grocery store earlier this year — but it’s far from the only retailer investing in these experiences, which aim to get consumers in and out as quickly as possible.

Canadian grocer Sobeys has its own smart cart that’s powered by artificial intelligence technology from Caper. In addition to enabling shoppers to bypass the checkout line, the Sobeys cart also provides information about deals and personalized recommendations.

Walmart, meanwhile, is currently piloting a cashier-less store that streamlines the checkout experience and reduces associate training time.

The Dash carts have their own designated lane when exiting the store.

And while the carts may hold potential future opportunities for the Amazon-owned Whole Foods stores, Amazon has made it known that it’s happy to work with competing retailers to install its proprietary Go tech within their stores.

In a recent webinar with RIS News, Kirk Ball, executive VP and chief technology officer of Giant Eagle, said that creating frictionless shopping experiences are one way that grocery retailers can be better prepared for a potential resurgence of COVID-19.

“If you can continue to enhance and create a frictionless experience and make it even more seamless than what it is today, I think that's certainly [one way to be ready],” he said, adding, “And then I think expand the design and implementation of checkout that minimizes contact with your product.”

Michael Jaszczyk, CEO, GK Software USA, noted that while retailers must meet consumer demands for faster and contactless shopping by experimenting with new concepts, it’s important they find the technology that fits well with their retail format and unique shoppers’ needs.

“While the Dash Cart is designed for small to mid-sized shopping trips, there are other challenges that must be solved for customers with long grocery lists,” he said. “Nonetheless, the retailers who learn from early adopters like Amazon and deploy technology that’s designed for simplicity and convenience will be the ultimate winners.”