Amazon testing cashierless checkout technology at large stores: Report

Amazon is looking to expand its use of cashierless checkout technology at brick-and-mortar retail locations, according to a report Sunday.

The e-commerce giant is testing the technology, which is already in use at Amazon-branded convenience stores, in a larger store format in Seattle, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The test is said to be a potential trial run for cashierless checkout at Whole Foods, the grocery store chain Amazon acquired last year for more than $13 billion, though the actual objective remains unclear.

Amazon and Whole Foods did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

The testing comes as Amazon rolls out brick-and-mortar retail store formats to complement its booming online business. The company has already launched seven Amazon Go convenience stores enabled with cashierless checkout technology in Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. It also opened several physical bookstores and “Amazon 4-Star,” a store full of items that were highly rated among online shoppers.

Cashierless technology uses cameras and machine learning to automatically track customers as they remove items from shelves. Customers scan their phones when they enter an Amazon Go store and are charged as they leave. The technology is more difficult to implement in larger store formats such as Whole Foods locations due to product variety and overall space, the Journal said.

Amazon is said to be considering a plan to open up to 3,000 cashierless convenience stores by 2021.