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First Look: Amazon debuts new high-tech grocery store

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The future of brick-and-mortar grocery may be here, with the name Amazon Fresh.

Amazon is officially opening its highly anticipated grocery store model –  Amazon Fresh – in Woodland Hills, Calif. The e-tail giant designed the format from the ground up to offer a seamless shopping experience with extra perks for members of the Amazon Prime paid loyalty program.

Although Amazon Fresh features traditional checkout counters, shoppers who prefer to skip the queue have the option of using the Amazon Dash Cart. Initially announced in July, Amazon Dash Cart uses a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items customers put in the cart. Customers can place their bags in the cart, sign in using their Fresh QR code in the Amazon app, shop, and exit through the Dash Cart lane to automatically complete their payment.

In another omnichannel offering, customers can find items in the store more quickly by using Amazon Alexa voice technology and Alexa shopping lists. When customers arrive in store, they can access their Alexa shopping list through the Amazon app or on the Amazon Dash Cart, enabling them to more quickly navigate aisles and check off items as they shop. Throughout the store, there are Amazon Echo Show devices customers can use to ask for help via Alexa voice technology, such as by saying, "Alexa, where can I find the hot sauce?"

The 35,000-sq.-ft. store also offers direct same-day delivery and pickup services. Customers can pick up their orders by visiting the service counter or by pulling up to a dedicated pick-up parking spot. Same-day delivery is free for Prime members. Furthermore, Amazon Fresh offers package pick-up and free packageless product returns.

The store offer a wide assortment of national brands and produce, meat, and seafood, along with a range of prepared foods made fresh in store every day. It will apply the same COVID-19 safety measures currently in use at Amazon’s Whole Foods grocery stores, including daily temperature checks for all employees, requiring face coverings for all employees and customers entering the store, free disposable masks for any customer who wants one, and operating the store at 50% capacity.

Customers will earn 5% back at Amazon Fresh when they use their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card or Amazon Prime Store Card at checkout. Amazon has announced it plans to open other Amazon Fresh store locations in North Hollywood, Calif., and in Oak Lawn and Schaumburg, Ill.

Starting Aug. 27, Amazon is sending invites to select customers in Woodland Hills to shop the store before it opens widely to the public. Invited shoppers can bring the emailed invitation to shop. The store will open to everyone in in the coming weeks. Store hours are daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT.

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