Amazon dumps major mobile commerce “just walk out” in-person shopping feature

Mobile commerce - Amazon feature Cancelled

The online marketplace and tech giant is killing off its feature letting shoppers simply leave grocery stores.

Amazon built a tremendous amount of hype around the mobile commerce feature at its in-person grocery stores, which let people “just walk out” and still pay for their purchases.

How did the system work?

The idea was that people could enter the store and scan their payment method, choose their items, bag them up and simply leave without having to go through a checkout counter.

mobile commerce - person shopping in grocery store with Amazon Prime Bag
Credit: Photo by

It appears that as hyped as the system was, and as much as it let people shop without having to line up or interact with a person or checkout machine, the Amazon mobile commerce system never worked as well as it was expected to.

A highly circulated statistic from 2022, published in The Information, suggested that as many as 70 percent of the Just Walk Out transactions at Amazon in-person grocery stores still required some form of off-site human reviewing assistance. That said, this statistic has never been confirmed by Amazon which has, in fact, disputed it.  It is unclear as to how The Information came up with the calculation.

A substantial mobile commerce support staff in India

That said, at the time the statistic was published, there were about 1,000 people in India under Amazon’s employ who were reviewing the grocery store footage to help train the Just Walk Out System.  This helps to illustrate the scope of human assistance still needed for the design and function of systems that would otherwise appear to be fully automated.

Though many would simply shrug off this move, as the majority of people never even tried the feature, some are seeing it as a stark reminder of the limitations to current AI technology.  Indeed, it is learning fast, and some already believe that it will be able to cure cancer and solve the climate change crisis, AI is neither all-knowing nor infallible.

Potential in the future

Certainly, with the speed of AI’s progress, there is potential for this mobile commerce feature to reappear either through Amazon or a rival company. After all, while Amazon may have eliminated the tech from its in-person grocery stores, the technology itself has not been abandoned.  Several sporting venues also implemented these systems and none have given any indication that they want to leave it behind.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.