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Amazon To Officially Open First Amazon Fresh Grocery Store In Los Angeles

An interior photo of the first Amazon Fresh grocery store, outfitted with a smart kiosk using its Alexa voice control technology.

Amazon's foray into the mainstream grocery industry is about to begin.

On Thursday, the retail titan announced that it will be opening up its first Amazon Fresh grocery store in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles to select neighbors, with a full opening to follow in the coming weeks, CNBC reports. The 35K SF store will be Amazon's first full-size grocery store outside of the Whole Foods brand it owns.

Whereas the high-end Whole Foods focuses on organic products produced by private labels and doesn't stock any products with artificial ingredients, Amazon Fresh will have an inventory more akin to established grocers like Kroger and Giant, including household brand names. Amazon Fresh will also stock products from the more reasonably priced Whole Foods 365 private label, CNBC reports.

Due to the steep rise in online grocery ordering precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon has already put its next three Amazon Fresh locations to use as "dark" stores that aren't opened to the public. For now, the stores in LA's Northridge neighborhood, the Orange County city of Irvine and the Chicago neighborhood of Naperville are used solely for fulfillment of online orders, CNBC reports.

As a further nod to e-commerce, Amazon Fresh will also have a service counter where customers can pick up online orders of either groceries or Amazon.com packages, as well as return online purchases for free.

For the foreseeable future, Amazon Fresh in Woodland Hills will require masks for all customers and staff and be restricted to 50% capacity.

Amazon's Dash Carts use sensors, cameras and scales to identify what items are placed in them, and can connect to a customer's Amazon app for payment.

Although Amazon Fresh stores won't have the same completely cashier-less setup that Amazon Go convenience stores do, at least the Woodland Hills location will come with what Amazon is calling Dash Carts — shopping carts equipped with cameras, sensors and scales to determine what a shopper puts in her cart in real time.

The carts will also have tablets that will display what is in a shopper's cart and allow connection to the Amazon smartphone app to both display Alexa shopping lists and check out. Amazon is further integrating its Alexa technology into the store by placing Echo Show devices in kiosks that can offer directions to find a specific item or suggest recipe ideas, CNBC reports.

Though no further plans for Amazon Fresh stores have been announced, the company was rumored in April to have made a deal with a national REIT to lease a passel of vacant retail properties across the country in one fell swoop.