0:44 How the Dash Cart works
2:34 About the store
3:03 Integration with Alexa
3:55 Checking out with the Dash Cart
4:30 Pros and Cons of the store and the cart
Hello Investors! This past weekend, I went to the new Amazon Fresh store that opened less than a week ago in a former Babies R Us in the Irvine Marketplace shopping center. I made a video about my shopping trip and my impressions of the store, as well as the Dash cart, which is Amazon’s cashierless shopping cart. You’ll have to watch the video to get more of the experience, but if you’re not a video person, I’ll do my best to explain what it’s like in this email.
There were actually two lines to get in the store. If you wanted to use a regular cart, you could go in the left lane. But if you were there to use the new Dash cart, then you had to wait!
Once you get inside, someone helps explain how to use the dash cart. First you open the Amazon app on your phone and use the scanner in the cart to link to your account. Then the employee explains how to use the cart – you load your groceries into the bags, and you’re not supposed to fill them above the top of the bag because then it would interfere with the cameras.
The dash cart is bulky, but it rolls smoothly and is easy to maneuver. But because there are so many electronics and not much room for your groceries. You definitely can’t fit your kid sit inside the cart along with groceries.
Here’s how it works. If the item you want to buy has a bar code, you just put the item in the cart, making sure that the bar code is visible to cameras that are built into the front and rear of the cart. If you remove the item, the cart will usually recognize that it’s been removed, and if not, it will ask you to identify which item you just took out.
If you’re buying produce that needs to be weighed, you type in the PLU code, and the cart will automatically weigh the fruit or vegetable when you put it in the cart.
One of my challenges with the cart is that it’s really small. The two bags they provide are just a little bit taller than half of a regular shopping bag, and you’re not supposed to overfill the bag.
Also, the bar code scanners, although they are very good, aren’t perfect. I had an incident where I was trying to put two coconuts into my cart, and it only recognized one. I couldn’t just modify the quantity on the cart, so I had to keep removing them and putting them back in until the quantities were correct.
What about the store itself?
Amazon Alexa Integration
The store and the cart are integrated with Amazon Alexa. So if you use Alexa at home, you can create your shopping list with Alexa and it will show up on your cart’s screen. We’re not Alexa users but I think that’s a pretty convenient feature.
There are Alexa stations throughout the store, and you can ask Alexa if you’re looking for something. Here I am asking where the ketchup is.
In terms of layout, it seemed pretty standard, with produce on the left side of the store side, meat in the back, and hot food on the right side of the store. However, it definitely felt more cramped than my local Albertsons.
The back corner of the store has an Amazon locker where you can ship your items to for you to pick up, and also a counter where you can return products that you ordered from Amazon.com. There’s also a small selection of electronics, books, and some other items that are top sellers on Amazon.
There is also a hot deli where you can buy your $4.97 rotisserie chicken, pizza by the slice, soup, and other hot food.
When it’s time to check out, you bring your dash cart to the designated exit area. An employee moves your bags into a regular cart and scolds you if you didn’t follow directions overfilled your cart, like I did. Then the cart even gives you a survey for your feedback. You don’t bring the cart out to your car. It stays in the store. Then you walk out, and your credit card that’s linked to your Amazon account gets charged.
My wife used a regular cart and when she checked out, she got two coupons for $10 off a shopping trip of $35. Not a bad incentive to come back.
- There were a lot of employees on the floor and everyone was really friendly and eager to help
- It’s fun to use new technology and the dash cart definitely would have been easier to use if I wasn’t also trying to film and wrangle my kids at the same time
- Prices were reasonable
- Cart was very small and only has one compartment. It doesn’t have a shelf on the bottom or top to put some of the heavier items.
- Scanner had trouble with some bar codes
- Many items were out of stock, like some of the milk and cheese that we usually buy
- Also, I found it odd that no one was using reusable shopping bags
- I’m not sure about the long term viability of the dash cart after the novelty wears off. When I compare it to the self checkout stations at my local Albertson’s, I prefer self checkout. It’s the same idea, but you’re not limited to using a small shopping cart.
Hope you enjoyed this newsletter. See you next time!
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