Summary List Placement
- We got an exclusive look inside Amazon’s new grocery store from one of the few customers allowed inside.
- “It was like the Willy Wonka golden ticket,” the customer said of getting invited to the store. He added that it’s a very clean and “beautiful” store with the potential to be a big success.
- The store, called Amazon Fresh, is accessible to only a select group of invited customers and will open to the broader public in the coming weeks.
- Amazon is planning to open additional Fresh stores in California and Illinois.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amazon launched a new grocery concept last week in Woodland Hills, California, and invited only a few customers inside.
The store, called Amazon Fresh, looks like a cross between a discount grocer, a traditional supermarket, and a Whole Foods store. It carries national brands such as Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay, as well as Whole Foods’ private-label 365 brand.
It also sells general merchandise, such as air fryers and Instant Pots, and features a display table with Amazon tablets and smart speakers.
Eric Wein, a resident in the area, is one of the few customers who has been invited to shop at the new store.
"It was like the Willy Wonka golden ticket," he said of getting the invitation to the store, which has generated considerable buzz around Amazon's future grocery plans.
Amazon said it planned to open the Woodland Hills store to the general public in the coming weeks but provided no specific opening date. The company also confirmed plans to open additional Fresh stores in California (North Hollywood, Northridge, and Irvine) and Illinois (Naperville, Schaumburg, and Oak Lawn). Amazon declined to comment on when those stores would open.
Here's what Wein saw during his visit to the Woodland Hills store.
Several lanes outside the store are devoted to parking for curbside pickup and Amazon Flex drivers, who deliver Amazon Prime orders to customers.
At the entrance inside the store, a kiosk invites customers to try Amazon's new smart shopping cart, called the Dash Cart.
The cart is equipped with technology that recognizes what shoppers drop inside the basket and allows them to check out without visiting a cash register.
The cart reads barcodes and can also weigh loose fresh produce, such as peaches or apples.
To start using the cart, shoppers must scan a QR code on their phones.
Then the cart links to the shopper's Amazon account, and it can pull up their Alexa shopping list and tell them where items are.
Wein said the "main attraction" of the store is the Dash Cart. He said it was an exciting draw and convenient and easy to use. It has limitations, however, since it can hold only two grocery bags.
In a statement to Business Insider, Amazon said it designed the Dash Cart specifically for "small-to-medium-sized quick grocery trips."
"In our research, we've found that a high percentage of customers conduct multiple grocery trips per week, taking home two bags or less," the company said. "The Dash Cart is designed to help to make those frequented small trips faster for customers. If customers would like to shop for more items, they are welcome to use a traditional shopping cart."
The fresh-produce department carries a variety of fruits and vegetables in open bins.
Digital tags display prices throughout the store.
There is loose produce along one wall ...
... as well as packaged salads and herbs ...
... and prepared foods, such as soup, precut fruit, to-go salads, and "power bowls" including pesto noodles with shrimp; farro, carrots, and goat cheese; and broccoli and chicken.
Throughout the store, there are several Alexa stations that offer to help customers find specific items.
A number of signs also advertise Alexa's services.
At the Fresh Kitchen, customers can order sandwiches, sushi, and other made-to-order items.
Shoppers have the option to preorder these items in the Amazon app so they are ready by the time they check out.
A meat-and-seafood department offers a selection of poultry, beef, and fresh seafood.
The store carries Whole Foods' 365-branded products ...
... as well as national brands that shoppers would never find inside a Whole Foods store. These include Kellogg cereals ...
... Coca-Cola products ...
... and Brawny paper towels.
In addition to food, the store carries a selection of general merchandise, including the Instant Pot, Magic Bullet blender, Ninja blender, and GoWise USA air fryer.
A "best of Amazon" section displays cocktail shakers, cookbooks, nesting bowls, cold-brew makers, drinking glasses, lemon squeezers, USB cords, and rice makers.
Pet food and treats, greeting cards, and office supplies are also available.
The store also sells a wide selection of beer and wine.
A display table advertises Amazon devices, including tablets and smart speakers.
A customer-service counter offers package pickups and returns for items purchased through Amazon.com.
No boxes or labels are needed to make returns at the service counter.
The store also features Amazon lockers.
There are about 10 traditional checkout lanes for shoppers not using the Dash Cart.
Dash Cart shoppers exit through a separate lane.
Sensors charge shoppers' Amazon accounts once they exit through the Dash Cart lane so they can grab their bags and leave without visiting a traditional cash register.
Wein said the shopping experience overall was exciting and that he planned to return.
"I think it will be a big success," he said. "It's a beautiful store and it's very clean and technology-focused."
He said it was exciting to see mainstream brands alongside Whole Foods-branded products and touted the customer service from Amazon employees, saying they were friendly and frequently asked if he needed help.
"Overall it was a great shopping experience," he said. "I'll definitely go back."