Amazon Expands Palm-Reading Payments Tech To All Whole Foods Stores

July 26, 2023
Amazon has announced that its palm-reading payment system, Amazon One, will be rolled out to all Whole Foods Market stores in the US by the end of 2023.

Amazon has announced that its palm-reading payment system, Amazon One, will be rolled out to all Whole Foods Market stores in the US by the end of 2023.

Owing to rising adoption of Amazon One among third-party retailers and their customers, Amazon said it will “double down” on the deployment of its palm-reading terminals.

Under plans unveiled this month, all 500+ Whole Foods Market stores in the US will offer Amazon One as a payment option and Prime membership reward system by year-end.

At present, Amazon One is already available at 200+ Whole Foods Market Stores, so the expansion will more than double the system’s current deployment.

Built by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon One is a palm recognition platform that can be used for payment, identification and loyalty reward purposes.

Combining Whole Foods Market and other retailers, Amazon One is currently available at more than 400 locations in the US, and has already surpassed the “critical milestone” of 3m uses, according to Amazon.

Previous deployments

In March, as covered by VIXIO, the Panera Bread restaurant chain began using Amazon One as a payment method and reward system for members of its MyPanera loyalty scheme.

Also this year, Amazon One went live at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies MLB team, where it can be used for payments and age verification purposes.

Other sports and entertainment venues have adopted Amazon One for the same use cases, as have airport retailers such as Hudson, CREWS and OHM.

Amazon One is not to be confused with Just Walk Out, the autonomous checkout technology used by the Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores.

Sarmishta Ramesh, PR lead for identity and checkout at AWS, told VIXIO that Just Walk Out is available at only two Whole Foods Market stores in the US, in California and Washington respectively.

However, Amazon One can be used, and is being used, to identify oneself when checking in at Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh, i.e., when entering the store.

Card payments without the card

When using Amazon One for the first time, each user must enter a debit or credit card into the terminal to link to their biometric identity.

Users do not need to have an Amazon account to use Amazon One — they can enrol using only a phone number and a debit or credit card.

However, if a user does have an Amazon account, they can “pre-enrol” at home before scanning their palm for the first time at an Amazon One terminal.

For Prime members, once enrolled with Amazon One, Prime savings and discounts are automatically applied to their Whole Foods Market store purchases.

Richard Crone, CEO of Crone Consulting LLC, an independent payments advisory based in San Carlos, California, said his firm was among the first to use Amazon One during testing almost ten years ago.

Speaking to VIXIO, Crone said that Amazon One provides a bridge between the online and offline shopping worlds that allows retailers to “personalise” the in-store experience.

“When customers use Amazon One's palm reader to make purchases, they tap into a proprietary digital wallet feeding into a comprehensive customer data platform (CDP) across all channels, both online and offline,” he said.

“This platform houses detailed, stock keeping unit (SKU)-level data of customers' offline purchases from physical stores, and this data informs the customer’s online purchases on Amazon.”

The idea is that these new data streams can generate offline-to-online marketing strategies that are tailored to each customer, complementing the traditional online-to-offline approach.

“This data aids Amazon's generative AI and algorithms in creating a more personalised omni-channel customer experience,” said Crone.

“Note that more than one-third of and app sales are generated from the personalised recommendations during the shopping journey.”

Not just a payment system

In Crone’s view, Amazon One is not “just” a payment system, it is a certification authority and a federated identity platform that also includes payment credentials.

“Amazon One intertwines customer identity, cell phone credentials, payment credentials and transaction histories to form a holistic view of each individual consumer,” he said.

“Unique palm registration further enhances this approach, making a customer's comprehensive data profile readily available and essentially placing their purchasing history and preferences in the palm of their hand.”

With platforms like Amazon One, which tracks in-store customer activities and establishes clear purchasing journeys, retailers can further increase their earnings by demonstrating their role in driving new sales with an attribution audit trail.

Going forward, Crone said that Amazon One and other similar technologies will increasingly be used to facilitate in-store customer identification and autonomous checkout experiences.

To get ahead of its rivals, sources say that Amazon is offering to “retro-fit” the stores of third-party retailers with these new technologies in exchange for the data streams they produce.

Although only a “rumour” at this stage, Crone said the offer, if true, is “testament to the value of customer data in today's retail landscape”.

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