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The Rise of Smart Technologies in Retail Stores

Checkshelf self-scanning

Since the introduction of the first Amazon Go store with “Just Walk Out” technology, several retailers have focused on automating and hence improving the checkout experience in their stores. For most retailers who want to upgrade their existing infrastructure and who don’t want to build completely new stores, Scan and Go technology or self scanning has been the central part of their initiatives.

The traditional checkout experience for shoppers typically involves store associates who are scanning each shoppers’ item individually at the traditional checkout till. This process can – especially during rush hours – lead to queues and frustrated customers. As a result, self-checkouts as well as other technologies became more and more popular within the retail world. Artificial Intelligence and retail automation started playing a big role in the retail space.

We take a look at the newest retail technologies that are changing the way we shop as well as the implications they entail for retailers.

Grab and Go Store – A Driving Force

Amazon was one of the first companies who introduced a Grab & Go technology. Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology enables shoppers to simply enter a store via the Amazon app, by using a credit card or Amazon One. Shoppers enter the Amazon Go store and then pick-up the products they want, and subsequently just walk out of the store, without paying at a traditional till. The payment will instead be made automatically. There are a lot of other companies who came up with grab and go formats in order to bring a fast and more convenient checkout experience to shoppers and eliminate long checkout lines. As a matter of fact, different surveys have shown that the length of queues are considered as very important to shoppers. I.e. eMarketers claims that about 60%* of shoppers are annoyed by long checkout queues and a Forrester-Study** also revealed that shoppers don’t want to wait in long lines and are therefore more likely to switch stores in hope for a better checkout experience.

Scan and Go – The use of personal mobile device

Scan & Go allows customers to use their personal mobile phones or specifically designed devices from the retailer to scan and bag their selected goods while shopping. It’s simple and convenient: customers enter a Scan-and-Go store, open the associated app and start scanning all the items they want to purchase. At the end, they pay either on their device or on a payment terminal in the checkout area and leave the store. In this way, customers can bypass the traditional routine of filling a shopping cart, waiting in line, having the items loaded onto a conveyor belt and waiting for the cashier to start scanning all items as well as finally bagging the purchased items and leaving the store.

Smart Carts – Another Cashierless Store Format

Here’s how it works: Each shopping cart is equipped with a camera that uses computer vision to recognize each item as it is placed in the cart. In addition, an embedded security scale is used to weigh items as needed. For items such as fresh produce, customers enter the four-digit code and quantity of the item on the display to register the weight and price. As items are added or removed, a display on the front of the cart adjusts the total price. When the purchase is completed, all the customer needs to do is to follow the payment instructions on the display. Smart carts are typically designed for small to medium-sized supermarkets, where customers typically leave the store with one or two shopping bags.

What does it mean for the retailer?

The implementation of above mentioned technologies into stores must be well thought out. The technology must meet a need and/or desire of the shoppers and especially the store associates.

Below, we have listed a number of considerations retailers should consider with regard to new checkout solutions:

  • Implementing new checkout solutions in stores requires financial investment
  • Implementing a new technology often requires a rollout or onboarding process. Retailers may need to explain to shoppers how the technology will be used and, more importantly, what benefits the technology will bring to the customer
  • Store associates may need additional training and assistance to understand how to operate the new solutions and how to fix and help in case of technical issues. Contact us in order to receive information on how Checklens helps retailers to get their store associates on board.
  • Self-scanning, self-checkout, and “Just Walk Out” technologies can lead to higher shrinkage for retailers, as shoppers may not use the technology properly or intentionally try to avoid paying for a product. That’s why retail loss prevention and fraud prevention are gaining in importance. We have the right AI technology for you: Checkshelf for self scanning, and Checkscan for self-checkouts.

There’s little doubt that new technologies will be successfully integrated into retail environments. Always think new integrations well through, and consider implementations with less financial investment and easy integration.

 

Sources:
* Rimma Kats. 2020. For Many Consumers, the In-Store Shopping Experience Still Has Flaws. https://www.emarketer.com/content/for-many-consumers-the-in-store-shopping-experience-still-has-flaws
**Forrester Consulting. 2018. Consumers Cringe At Slow Checkout. Sarah Brinks.

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