Self-Checkout Via Smartphone

by Raymond Pucci 0

Taking self-service store checkout to the next level. That would be Sam’s Club’s Scan & Go, along with Amazon Go mobile shopping apps. According to the following article, these new systems are the forerunners of what can become a truly self-service shopping and payment experience for consumers.

Self-checkout is supposed to be a time-saver. But that’s before you’re admonished about an “unexpected item in bagging area.” Or before you struggle to pick precisely which barcode-free apples are in your cart — Honeycrisp or Gala? Regular or organic?

For years, the theoretically appealing but too-often irritating self-checkout experience hasn’t changed much. But now that many customers shop with smartphones, retailers are trying to speed the process with technology that can cut down the time spent waiting in line, while helping stores cut labor costs or free up cashiers for other tasks.

Since October, all Sam’s Club stores have offered a smartphone app, Scan & Go, that lets customers scan items as they shop and pay on their phone, skipping the physical checkout counter entirely. Likewise, when Amazon’s Seattle grocery store, Amazon Go, opens to the public next year, shoppers will bypass checkout lanes altogether, automatically charging their purchases to their Amazon account. Amazon has shared few details about how the technology will work, beyond that it can track when items are removed from shelves using some of the same technology that powers self-driving cars.

To use Scan & Go, at Sam’s Club, a customer uses his or her smartphone camera to scan each item’s barcode as the shopper adds it to the cart. After a customer pays through the app, an employee at the exit scans a barcode the app displays on the customer’s phone that will show the employee a list of items paid for, to check against the contents of the cart.

It’s all about streamlining and integrating the in-store shopping process. Many consumers have become acclimated to taking Uber or Lyft and not having to deal with fishing for money or plastic to pay at the end of the ride. So why shouldn’t in-store shopping be able to do the same. Plus go one better, and not even pass through a checkout line? While still in pilot phase, the Amazon Go store appears to be the preferred method vs. Sam’s. It remains to be seen if Amazon Go is scalable to large stores and heavy volume. That will be the true test if these self-service mobile checkout apps reach escape velocity.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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