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Amazon’s Dash Cart smart shopping cart sees steady decline in usage

  • Amazon’s big bet on cashierless technology is being used less than the company originally anticipated.
  • In particular, the Dash Cart smart shopping cart at its physical Amazon Fresh stores has seen a steady decline in usage, according to internal data.
  • Customers still love the Dash Cart’s running count feature that shows a live update of items picked up, and Amazon plans to roll it out more widely in other apps.

Amazon’s Dash Cart, a smart shopping cart that lets you pay without a cashier at its physical stores, is struggling to catch on among shoppers, though one of its key features is proving useful, a learned Insider.

Since its debut in late 2020, the Dash Cart has seen a steady decline in usage, according to an internal document obtained by Insider. According to the document, the Dash Cart accounted for only 11% to 15% of total shopping sessions in stores open for more than five weeks last August, against Amazon’s goal of handling about 30% of all sessions. Dash Cart is only available at 23 Fresh grocery stores on Amazon.

Declining usage is a potential risk, or “dogs don’t bark,” for Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store team, the document says. The team blamed the Dash Cart’s small size, which is not suitable for large products, and the vehicle’s difficulty in scanning items for the slow pull. He also pointed to the inconvenience caused by not being able to take the cart outside, such as in a customer’s car, because Amazon requires all carts to remain in the store.

“We saw a steady decline in shopping cart usage as a percentage of sessions,” the document says.

The Dash Cart’s lack of popularity is a setback for Amazon, which is betting strongly that these new in-store technologies will attract more customers to its physical stores. The company also continued to fall short of its forecast for new stores, opening just six of its planned 26 stores in the UK in 2021 and only one of its hundreds of fresh stores without a cashier, Insider previously reported. Still, it has ambitious plans to expand its physical stores and in-store technologies.

The Dash Cart, which allows shoppers to put items in the shopping cart and automatically pay for them without having to pay separately, is one of a series of innovations that Amazon has brought to these physical stores in recent years. Others include Just Walk Out cashierless technology and the One palm-reading payment system which are available at the company’s Go and Whole Foods stores, as well as other retailers.

Amazon’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Running

Despite the setbacks, some customers find one of the main features of the Dash Cart appealing: the screen on the cart that shows a count of the items they’ve picked up.

Running Count lets shoppers see the subtotal of products they’ve put in the cart, so they can track their purchases as they shop. This is a new feature not offered on Amazon’s mobile app, which most shoppers use to enter Amazon’s cashierless stores. Typically, when a buyer purchases from Amazon’s cashierless stores, they receive a receipt after leaving the premises.

The appeal of the ongoing tally feature leads to strong in-house support. Amazon plans to make it more widely available in its shopping apps and physical stores, “either through a shopping cart, phone or something else in real time” over the next three years, said Jeffrey Helbling, vice president of Amazon’s Fresh stores, during the grocery team’s internal town hall in August.

“The continuous count you get at the Dash Cart has been a delightful teacher and has been more of a benefit to the client than I think even we anticipated earlier,” Helbling said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained. by Insider.

Amazon has long considered selling the Dash Cart to other retailers, but that effort has stalled, according to a former employee with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Amazon typically seeks to sell new technologies and products to other retailers after testing them internally. Cashierless technology first rolled out in Amazon Go stores, for example, is now being sold to other grocery stores, and the Amazon One palm-scan payment system is now available on Amazon’s mobile ticketing pedestals. AXS. Amazon-owned Whole Foods introduced “Just Walk Out” technology to two of its stores last year.

Concerns about paying their biggest online competitor — Amazon — and the potential sharing of customer and sales data have caused retailers in the U.S. to largely avoid considering the Dash Cart, this person said. . Instead, Amazon is now trying to attract interest from other markets and countries, they said. Kroger, for example, announced a partnership in 2020 to use smart carts produced by Caper AI, a startup that was later acquired by Instacart.

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Contact journalist Eugene Kim via encrypted messaging apps Signal or Telegram (+1-650-942-3061) or email ([email protected]).