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Amazon's New "Dash Carts" Make Grocery Shopping a Breeze

It's the grocery shopping cart of the future.

You may have already known that the world's largest online retailer introduced physical, cashier-less grocery stores in 2018, but did you know that it's also launching a high-tech shopping cart? Soon, when you walk into Amazon's brick-and-mortar grocery store in the Los Angeles area—which is set to open this year—you'll be able to test-drive the Dash Cart.

What is an Amazon Dash Cart?

Think of a shopping cart that removes the checkout line from the equation. This advanced cart will track all of the items you put into it and automatically charge you once you leave the store. However, there's a bit of a catch. The cart is designed for small-to-medium size grocery trips only, aka 2 bags tops.

We know what you're thinking. How exactly does the cart know what to charge you for? Amazon's Dash Cart uses both computer vision algorithms with the help of built-in cameras and sensor fusion to detect all of the items in it. Then, after walking through the Dash Cart lane, the sensors automatically identify the cart and proceeds to charge the credit card linked to your Amazon account.

close-up cart
Courtesy of Amazon

That said, you only need two things to operate this fancy grocery shopping cart: an Amazon account and a smartphone. Upon entering the stores, users will have to pull up the Amazon app on their phones and then scan the unique QR code, which signs them into a cart. This feature also allows shoppers to access their own customized Alexa Shopping List, enabling them to see which items they still need and as well as their current subtotal.

The Amazon Dash Cart also has a scale built into it in case the shopper would need to weigh something, such as fresh produce, by the pound. For these items, the user will type in the four-digit code and quantity on the screen in front of the handlebar. And, for savvy shoppers who always have coupons on hand, the Dash Cart also has a scanner just for coupons.

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So, is this the future of grocery shopping post-pandemic? It will be interesting to see how easily shoppers, especially those who are used to friendly transactions with cashiers or even quick trips through the self-checkout line, adjust to this more efficient, contact-free way of getting groceries.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more