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The Future of Checkout May Be No Checkout at All

GK Software CEO valuates flexible technologies that meet needs of existing retail format and shoppers, as well as adapt for tomorrow
GK Software CEO Michael Jaszczyk

Waiting in a checkout line is one of the largest pain points within a physical store. As shoppers’ frozen goods begin to thaw and ice cream melts, seamless and faster payment options are critical. When faced with a long line, 65% of shoppers will head toward a self-checkout line, and 11% will abandon the shopping trip altogether.

Between Instacart acquiring Caper AI and Tesco launching its first checkout-free store, the grocery industry has seen plenty of partnerships in recent months around checkout. As a result, retailers are taking a second look at the cashierless concepts they use, as well as experimenting with new technology that will solve checkout challenges of the future.

But with so many types of payment options to consider, it can be overwhelming. As the future of checkout continues to evolve and change in definition, it’s important that retailers evaluate the flexible technologies that meet the needs of their existing retail format and shoppers, as well as adapt for tomorrow.

Smart Shopping Carts

The goal of smart shopping carts is to make “10 items or less” and self-checkout lanes things of the past. Beyond eliminating the checkout line, smart shopping carts can be advantageous to grocers as the display screens can pull up customer shopping lists and share promotional and loyalty information. So, before a retailer looks to implement this technology, they must ensure their omnichannel capabilities are advanced enough to effectively serve their customers.

While it’s important to experiment with new concepts, it’s equally essential to find the right technology that fits well with a retailer’s specific format and unique shoppers’ needs. For instance, smart carts are designed for small to mid-sized shopping trips, and don’t provide an answer to contactless checkout for most large supermarkets. Therefore, a large family doing a weekly shopping trip might not benefit from a smart shopping cart, while a consumer making a quick run for that night’s meal would find the technology helpful.

Advanced Payment Methods

Touchless checkout and payment methods – including palm scanning and Amazon-coined “Just Walk Out” technology – can speed up the purchase process, as no interaction is needed. A customer’s account is simply charged automatically. However, for retailers with large store formats, these technologies can demand costly installation, for to be effective, Just Walk Out technology often requires ceiling camera infrastructure and RFID technology.

Palm scanning is one of the easiest ways a consumer can shop, as they don’t need to carry a wallet or a phone to pay. Beyond payments, scanning technology can collect data on shopping habits, ultimately replacing loyalty cards and ID numbers. Although, while palm-scanning technology has the potential to be the fastest way to pay in-store, it raises a number of privacy and security concerns. Hesitation around these issues can affect widespread customer adoption growth rates, so grocers will need to communicate privacy processes to ease consumers’ minds.

While this technology is certainly exciting, retailers looking to solve problems around the checkout line immediately can look to streamline and speed up their existing payments processes with a solution that integrates with their point-of-sale network.

Mobile Centricity

With mobile technology, retailers can alleviate long lines by utilizing devices customers already keep in their back pocket. In fact, 87% of consumers now prefer to shop at stores that have touchless or robust self-checkout items, according to a consumer survey from Shekel, a provider in advanced weighing technologies. As consumers continue to use their phones as shopping and payment tools, global mobile commerce is expected to surpass $5 trillion in 2025

Retailers can implement mobile scan and pay services both through a branded app or an app-less interface. While a branded app can further foster loyalty, the popularity of apps means the market is now extremely saturated, leaving consumers hesitant to install yet another one. Developing, deploying and maintaining an app can also be costly. Instead, with an app-less interface, all that’s required from a shopper is to open their phone and scan a QR code to start shopping. What’s more, retailers can easily integrate new features and payment methods into their existing system. With these options, mobile checkout technology can meet the needs of today’s consumers, and also future shoppers.    

Checkout Innovation Must Meet Any Shopper’s Needs

It’s clear that the future of checkout requires contactless payment options and an omnichannel point-of-sale solution that promotes an exceptional customer experience. It’s now a race for retailers to invest in these technologies as they look to provide the flexibility, speed and convenience customers expect. In fact, these checkout offerings are a deciding factor on whether a shopper chooses one retailer over a competitor.

However, whether it’s mobile, smart shopping carts or any other technology that has yet to be imagined, retailers must look to provide solutions that meet the needs of their most loyal shoppers.

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