After more than a year of speculation about its foray into brick-and-mortar grocery, Seattle-based Amazon has opened its first location.
The store, dubbed Amazon Fresh, opened to customers on an invitation-only basis in Woodland Hills, CA, on August 27. The soft launch is expected to go on for a few weeks before the official roll-out.
The grocery industry has been watching Amazon closely for the past few years since the company purchased Austin, TX-based Whole Foods Market Inc. In that time Amazon has launched services like Amazon Go, a cashier-less convenience store concept, Prime Now delivery, with 1-and 2-hour options for Prime members, and has expanded, pulled back, and expanded its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery services in select markets.
Whole Foods also was rumored to be integrating Amazon Go technology next year.
The company reportedly has dozens of locations scouted for Amazon Fresh stores, with another 43,000-square-foot store expected to open soon in the Chicago suburbs.
The company is touting features at its Woodland Hills like seamless in-store and online shopping, organic produce “sourced by 365 by Whole Foods Market, low prices, prepared foods under new Amazon brands like Fresh and Cursive, and innovations to make grocery shopping more convenient, including the launch of the Amazon Dash Cart.
The Dash Cart allows customers to log in and shop and skip the checkout using a proprietary cart and designated lane. “The cart uses a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items put in the cart,” the company says. See a demo here.
Amazon’s AI technology, Alexa, also is integrated into the shopping experience, with Echo stations posted for customers to ask Alexa for help finding items in the store.
Amazon says it emailed invitations to “select” customers in Woodland Hills, CA, to shop in the store before it opens to the public, and plans to open the store to the public in the coming weeks.