No one likes to wait, but something about standing in a grocery store line on a busy Sunday night feels especially daunting. There’s no easy solve for what appears to be a collective decision for crowds to grocery shop on nights and weekends, but Amazon Fresh stores have found a way to make the checkout process a lot easier, faster, and dare I say, even kind of cool.
Depending on your location, Amazon Fresh stores have two ways to skip the checkout line. The store I visited uses The Amazon Dash Cart, a super-high-tech cart that lets you scan items as you go and exit through the Amazon Dash Cart lane when you’re done. You might also see Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology at other locations, which allows you to grab what you want and leave the store without having to wait in line, charging your chosen payment method only for the items you take with you.
There are Amazon Fresh locations across the U.S. that offer a wide selection of groceries, including fresh produce, meat and seafood, pantry essentials, and tasty grab-and-go items. I visited the Ladera Heights store on a recent trip to Los Angeles to experience shopping with the Amazon Dash Carts. Here’s what it was like.
Like most shopping trips, the Amazon Fresh experience starts with grabbing a cart. Unlike most stores though, the carts at Amazon Fresh are incredibly smart.
Amazon Fresh uses Amazon Dash Carts, which are designed to keep a running tab of the items you add to your cart (and take out) so you can skip the checkout line and leave through the Amazon Dash Cart Lane.
Once I had my cart, I opened the Amazon Shopping app on my phone and scanned the in-store shopping code using a sensor located near the handle. This linked the cart to my Amazon account for the duration of my shopping trip. You don’t have to have the app or a Prime membership to shop. If you’re not sure where to start, ask an employee for help—I did!
I started shopping, and lights on the basket illuminated when I placed items inside. The running tab on the screen updated with each new item.
The screen also removed items from my tab as I took them out of my cart. I added a bag of chips then quickly took it out to test the cart’s skills. Sure enough, the chips were promptly removed from my purchase list when I took them out of the cart.
The cart also has a built-in scale to make shopping for produce a breeze.
Speaking of the produce, the range of products inside Amazon Fresh stores is equally as impressive as the carts.
The fruit and vegetables are super fresh, and you’ll also find a selection of high-quality meat and seafood, as well as a range of delicious prepared foods made fresh in store every day.
Pro tip: You can order items from the deli counter online and pick them up in the store to skip yet another line during your shopping trip.
The stores also offer a wide assortment of national, regional, and local brands in addition to tasty options from Amazon’s private label brands Aplenty, Fresh, and Amazon Kitchen.
They even have a solid selection of skincare items, which was much needed as I forgot to pack moisturizer for my visit to Los Angeles—a city with a notoriously dry climate.
The rest of the aisles have all of the essentials you would expect from a grocery store, as well as things you might need in a pinch, like batteries, office supplies, and pet food. If you’re not sure where to locate an item, there are Amazon Echo devices throughout the store that you can use to ask Alexa for help.
The bakery has a big selection of fresh-baked products, including 89-cent bread and tempting treats. I had my eye on a pink sprinkled doughnut.
There is also a super convenient coffee machine in the bakery. I grabbed a cup, followed the steps, and typed in the item’s code on my cart to add it to my purchase—no lines, no fuss.
I also scoped out the salad and sushi bars that offer freshly prepared, tasty, convenient meals with high quality ingredients.
I noticed a customer service desk where you can pick up orders and make returns. I thought this was a nice perk so you can order your groceries ahead of time and get all of your errands done in one spot! I also learned you can get a coupon for $10 off a $40 or more purchase at Amazon Fresh when you make a return in store.
There are traditional checkout stations for those who would prefer a cashier instead of using the Amazon Dash Carts.
I was already using the Amazon Dash Cart, so I opted for the checkout-free option. I simply walked through a designated Dash Cart Lane and followed the prompts on the cart’s screen to settle my bill. The whole process took less than a minute.
I grabbed my shopping bag and returned my cart to a spot where it would be sanitized and prepared for the next customer. You can also take the cart straight to your car to unload your groceries.
The checkout process was so easy, I didn’t quite believe I’d actually paid. A quick check in the Amazon Fresh section of the Amazon Shopping app confirmed I did in fact pay for my groceries.
As you can see, Amazon Fresh makes in-store grocery shopping fast and simple for all customers, even if you’re not a Prime member. The experience may vary depending on the store’s layout, so don’t be shy asking employees—and Alexa—for help during your visit.
Find an Amazon Fresh store near you to check it out for yourself.