After a few weeks of operating on an invite-only basis, the Amazon Fresh grocery store in Woodland Hills, California, opened to the general public on Thursday.
From the outside, the store looks just like a conventional grocery store, complete with ample parking, including designated slots for pickup, and large signs touting the grocer's low prices. But as shoppers enter the store, they'll quickly notice many Amazon-esque features, including the line of Dash Carts, Alexa stations placed throughout the store and strategically positioned QR codes that allow shoppers to order ahead or load coupons.
The supermarket also featured many opening day deals including $2.69 for a 12-pack of Coca-Cola cans, $5.99 per pound of Atlantic salmon fillets and BOGO Frito Lay Chips. The store is open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
This is just the first of a series of Amazon Fresh stores the e-commerce giant plans to open. Other confirmed locations include Oak Lawn, Schaumburg and Naperville, Illinois and Irvine and North Hollywood, California. Reports have also detailed stores in Philadelphia, Seattle and the Washington, D.C. area.
Here's a closer look at Amazon Fresh.
Safety during COVID-19
To keep customers safe, the store had floor markers outside to keep shoppers waiting in line at least six feet apart. Store associates stood at the entrance regulating the number of customers allowed in. According to an Amazon spokesperson, the store is currently at 50% capacity due to COVID-19. Store associates are also sanitizing returned carts as customers leave the store.
Low prices and promotions galore
Amazon's new store is covered with low-price messaging, including posters placed outside of the store and signs all throughout the inside touting opening day deals. This includes bananas for 15 cents, bread for 89 cents, $4.97 rotisserie chickens and freshly made pizza slices for $1.79.
Open for pickup
At the very front of the store are designated parking spots for curbside pickup. Shoppers check in through the Amazon app once they're on the way to the store and park in a designated parking spot. Once they park, an associate will bring out the customer's order.
Dash in, get a Dash Cart
As shoppers enter the store, they will find the dash carts located immediately to their right. Here, an associate will always be available to assist customers in getting their dash cart set up, an Amazon spokesperson said. Two paper bags are placed inside the cart, however more are available if the shopper needs them.
Due to COVID-19, Amazon is not allowing shoppers to use their own bags, and not using a bag at all isn't an option due to the sensor technology.
The customer logs into their Amazon app, clicks on the cart, slides over to the Fresh In-Store tab and scans the QR code displayed on the phone using the cart's scanner. This will unlock the Dash Cart and start a quick, six-step tutorial that walks through how to use the new technology. According to the company spokesperson, if a shopper returns to the Amazon Fresh store, they do not have to rewatch the tutorial to use the Dash Cart.
Once the shopper completes the tutorial, their grocery shopping list from the Amazon app is integrated into the Dash Cart. This shows which aisle each item can be found in and which items have already been added. The screen also features a brief "How-To" that reminds shoppers how to use the cart.
A tech-enhanced produce department
Amazon Fresh's produce section looks very similar to that of a traditional, full-service grocery store. It includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, both organic and non-organic, as well as salad kits and herbs.
However, there is one feature that can't be found in a typical neighborhood grocer: a tech-enhanced scale. This scale allows shoppers that aren't using the Dash Cart to enter the PLU number found on the individual produce item, check the weight and price, print a label and place it on the bag. This removes the need for employees at the checkout counter to search for the item and weigh it, ultimately speeding up the checkout process.
"Hey Alexa, where are the potato chips?"
Amazon Echo Show devices are placed inside "Ask Alexa" stations positioned around the store. Service kiosks meant to help customers find items and check prices are familiar to shoppers, but the Alexa stations make it clear they offer additional information, like which wine to pair with a cheese selection or how many ounces are in a cup.
Order-ahead meat and seafood
Amazon Fresh offers all-natural, conventional and organic meat and seafood. Meat options include a cowboy burger, herb mozzarella turkey burger, ground chuck and beef tri-tip roast, as well as fresh chicken thighs and drumsticks. Seafood choices include farm-raised Atlantic salmon filet, "Pacific fresh" Dungeness crab and jumbo shrimp.
If a shopper doesn't want to wait in line to order meat and seafood, they can scan a QR code located in the department and order ahead. The items are prepared while the customers shops the store and can be picked up at the counter.
Fresh-made sushi, pizza and rotisserie chicken
Amazon Fresh offers a range of products made daily by their in-store culinary team, including fresh-baked bread, made-to-order pizzas, rotisserie chicken and hot sandwiches like a brisket panini. Top sellers, according to a store employee, include its classic pepperoni and pesto chicken pizzas, spicy tiger sushi rolls and rotisserie chickens.
The grocer's hot bar station was empty due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Ready to heat, ready to eat
Much like its Go Grocery stores, Amazon Fresh includes a wide selection of packaged meals, sides and meal starters. This includes a variety of ready-to-heat and ready-to-eat options, many of them under the Amazon Kitchen brand. Ready-to-heat items include dishes for two like chimichurri rojo beef, teriyaki glazed salmon and beef meatballs. Its "one pan" items include red curry tofu, chicken pad thai and butter chicken curry.
Other items included soups like loaded potato and Angus steak, and salads like Vietnamese-style salad and spring greens with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
Charcuterie and artisanal cheese
The store's charcuterie and artisanal cheese selection was extensive. Shoppers can pick up a pre-prepared charcuterie board, which features a variety of meats and cheeses, or make their own with items from the shelf. Items include Cerignola green olives, sweet soppressata, Italian salami with garlic and wine, goat milk cheese with lavender and fennel, and Wensleydale cheese with blueberries.
Customer service and cross-selling Amazon tech
In the far right corner of the store, customers will find the customer service counter where they can return products purchased in the Fresh store up to 30 days after purchase, return online Amazon orders or pick up their online orders.
Right across from the customer service counter, on a small table, Amazon is selling technology products like its Fire tablets — a cross-selling opportunity the retailer has also taken advantage of at Whole Foods locations. The store has a shelf that features "Best of Amazon" products including small appliances and books.
Checking out with the Dash Cart
Customers using Dash Carts must exit the store through a specified lane. As shoppers walk past the green area, their carts will automatically check out with the card on file, and an employee is on hand to answer questions and ID any customers with alcohol purchases. The carts must stay inside the store — the wheels will lock if taken outside — meaning customers have to carry their bags to their vehicles.
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated shoppers receive a designated parking space for pickup. Customers can park in any available pickup slot. The story also noted that a final audit is required when customers check out with a Dash Cart. Employees are available at the designated lane to answer questions and check IDs for alcohol purchases.