Hurried shoppers everywhere have complained about the time spent waiting in line to check out. Retailers have tried all sorts of methods and techniques to ease the process, from bulky self-checkout lanes to line-busting to distracting shoppers with impulse purchases. But what if the solution is to just get rid of the queues altogether and put shoppers and their mobile phones in the driver’s seat?
A few companies have made headlines by piloting versions of this idea. Barclaycard, a U.K.-based credit card and payment services provider, just announced the development of a “Grab+Go” app that allows shoppers to cut out the checkout process by scanning barcodes using a smartphone’s camera. Wal-Mart has also generated buzz around its next-generation test stores with Scan & Go technology that uses a similar solution to allow customers to bypass the traditional checkout process. And while Amazon Go’s cashier-free store hit technology roadblocks, it, too, points toward a checkout-free future.
The ability to immediately shop with seamless control and no long checkout lines seems like retail’s next big thing, but in reality, the technology has been around for some time. Think about Apple stores, which have long allowed customers to use an app on their smartphone and walk out of the store with their merchandise, with no interaction with a salesperson required. Self-scanning and self-pay through consumers’ smartphones is rapidly gaining traction in Europe, too. With the technology already here, modernizing the shopping experience is easier than ever.
Reinventing the Shopping Experience
By removing the need to physically wait in line to check out, retailers can significantly cut down on shoppers’ wait times, create a better experience and increase customer satisfaction. It eliminates the traditional pain points of the checkout process, welcoming the high-tech future of retail.
The functionality of these tools requires a design that's minimally disruptive and convenient. Barclaycard’s “Grab+Go” app uses a highly scalable platform, with all the technology used in the customer's smartphone rather than using shelves fitted with sensors like Amazon Go. If retailers want to step up and adopt these processes, they must seamlessly integrate systems that are as secure and simple as traditional methods so that consumers can easily adapt to the new technology.
The Solution Lies in Consumers’ Hands
The simple solution of using the shopper’s smartphone as a self-scanning device is all retailers need to easily transition to queue-free checkouts. There's a wealth of consumer-friendly capabilities available on mobile applications that make the system reliable with minimal business disruption. Retailers have complete control over their enterprise infrastructure and can deliver personalized promotions, loyalty programs and award redemptions to the customer. They can also understand real-time, in-store customer behavior, empowering them to use the data to gain insights and improve efficiency into their omnichannel strategies.
At the same time, shoppers are able to use the device that they already know and love to checkout, all while utilizing the store’s current infrastructure. They’re able to stay engaged and enabled with what they already know how to use, but in a new and exciting way that sets the stage for shopping in the future.
Consumer habits are changing and retailers should be asking what tomorrow’s customers want. It’s time to say goodbye to conventional scanners and checkout lines and hello to the future of retail — a queue-free checkout process leveraging smartphones. This technology is available today, and it’s part of the solution to making shopping in-store fun, engaging and convenient for today’s shoppers.
Michael Jaszczyk is the chief technology officer and U.S. CEO of GK Software, a store technology solutions provider.