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Amazon steps up its grocery ambitions with an Alexa-powered Fresh supermarket in Los Angeles

Amazon’s first ever Amazon Fresh store opens today. The supermarket in Los Angeles offers what it calls a “seamless grocery shopping experience.”

Amazon is venturing even further into the grocery game today with the debut of its first-ever Amazon Fresh store. The 35,000-square-foot supermarket in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles embraces technology for what it calls a “seamless grocery shopping experience.”

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Don’t expect “Alexa, clean up in aisle five” announcements over the loudspeaker, though.

  • Customers can use the new Amazon Dash Cart, activated using a Fresh QR code and charged to their selected payment method on the way out of the store. “A combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion” notes what’s in the cart, explains Amazon vice president Jeff Helbling.
  • Shoppers access their Alexa shopping lists to figure out where the items they want are located in the store and to check off what they need as they wind their way through the store.
  • Amazon Echo Shows are placed throughout the store, inviting customers to help them locate what they’re looking for by asking, “Alexa, where can I find cereal?”

Supermarkets and grocery stores are a $682 billion industry in the United States, according to the market research firm IBISWorld.

The main players in the retail food space are Walmart and Kroger. Other national heavies include Albertsons, Costco, and Target, while companies, like Publix, Ahold Delhaize, Meijer, H-E-B, and Wegmans are regional players. Also noteworthy are national dollar-store chains serving as grocery purveyors and the growing popularity of the German discount food chains Lidl and Aldi.

The Amazon Fresh store features the sort of products you’d expect at a local supermarket, such as well-known national and local brands (Coca-Cola, Kraft Mac & Cheese, and Groundworks Coffee); fresh meat, seafood, and produce; and in-store prepared foods and bakery items.

Hold the “prime” beef jokes, because this isn’t the Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth’s first foray into grocery. It bought Whole Foods in June 2017 for $13.7 billion.

Nor is it Amazon’s brick-and-mortar debut. That came in 2018 with the public launch of the Amazon Go convenience store.

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Amazon’s Fresh grocery delivery service has been around since 2007.

The new Amazon Fresh store is open by invitation only right now, but the public will be allowed in in a few weeks. There’s also same-day delivery and pickup during store hours, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

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