With new cashless payments becoming readily available, we are quickly becoming a cashless society, and the retail environment is continuously changing to accommodate new shopping habits and self-checkout trends. There are many payment options currently used, from credit and debit cards, to E-wallets that can connect to smartphones and watches. Alongside this, companies are developing checkout-free stores where customers can leave the store without having to wait to pay.
In the UK alone, one in 10 adults are now choosing to use contactless, mobile, or other payments over cash; debit card transactions are still the most frequent method of payment though, currently accounting for 15 billion payments. To account for the continued increase, self-checkout in retail stores are currently the best way to adjust to this trend.
When it comes to shopping, some may consider it therapeutic until they reach the checkout. Everybody hates queueing, so self-checkouts are a good way to improve the checkout experience by reducing lines and increasing foot traffic and flow through the store. Checkout-free stores are just the next wave of ways to increase user satisfaction rates by creating a quick and easy way to purchase items. Let’s take a deeper look at this.
What Is Checkout Free?
Checkout-free, or scan-and-go stores, are on the mind of many retail outlets as they strive to produce seamless and easy user experiences. On the online space, resources like Shopify self-checkout have been implemented across many eCommerce sites, and scan-and-go stores are the next innovation matching this current feature in brick-and-mortar stores, merging quick easy shopping with the high street.
Amazon Go was the first checkout-free store to open with their “Just walk out” technology. In this store run by artificial technology, customers download a mobile app, get anything they desire in-store, put it in their bags, and simply walk out. The technology behind this store dynamic relies on cameras and sensors to track individuals and what’s removed from shelves. It notes each item that has been taken by the customer, and deducts the total amount from their account when they leave the store.
The mobile app isn’t a new concept, but is important in the growth of this new smart shopping experience because it is widely used already; everyone has a mobile, and many use store apps to collect points, get discounts, and connect with a brand. Adding a mobile checkout option creates an all-in-one experience from user to store, easily connecting transactions with user buying trends, advertising, promotions, and leads to more conversions.
How Many Stores Have Self-Checkout?
Tech companies developing check-out free strategies are looking at supermarkets to implement this idea. Supermarkets are continuously looking to improve their checkout systems and have tried many ways to change store dynamics to maximise user satisfaction. Self-checkout machines are normally found in supermarkets and a variety of other stores. It’s only natural that these stores are being involved in new checkout-free systems.
For example, in April 2019, Sainsbury’s opened its first checkout-free store in central London on a trial basis. Instead of using cameras and sensors like Amazon Go, customers are required to use its app to scan items, and when they finished, they pay via Apple or Google Pay and scan a QR code to finish their purchase. This simpler method is easier to install and can be integrated into existing stores without any problem.
Are Scan-and-Go Stores the Future of Retail?
As generations grow and develop alongside technological advances, a larger variety of shopping preferences is emerging that stores need to cater for. It’s no surprise that UK shoppers are turning to companies that offer multiple check-out options as they embrace smart automated systems. 57% of users now opt to avoid human interaction. Whilst this preference varies with different retailers, many users still prefer to speak to someone when they need customer support.
Incorporating scan-and-go options into your stores will enhance retail checkout experiences, shrink checkout lines, increase foot traffic, and maximise happy customers for higher conversion rates. Ultimately, scan-and-go stores are the way forward to optimise brick-and-mortar stores and compete with easy online-store checkouts, but with users needing some experience navigating these payment options, it’ll be some time before scan-and-go payments are the only retail checkout process available.
What are the Pros and Cons of Checkout-Free Stores?
There will always be pros and cons to every new technology that becomes available, so it’s important to make sure you think about your options before integrating any system into your company. Take a look at some of the reasons for and against checkout-free:
- Better user experience – In a survey conducted by SOTI, 66% of consumers prefer self-service over interacting with store employees. By implementing scan and go retail, the whole shopping process will be streamlined and much more seamless for customers, especially for those who have little time to shop.
- Reduced labour costs – Paying multiple cashiers can soon add up, so implementing a checkout-free store will allow you to cut back on staffing. First you’ll have to consider initial instillation fees, but if you decide to invest you’ll be able to maximise an employee’s output for other tasks like restocking and customer assistance.
- More space – Removing cashier desks will also allow you to optimise on store space for extra products that would otherwise have to stay in the stockroom.
- Customer difficulties – Removing all traditional checkouts will isolate customers who aren’t tech-savvy and may not know or understand the way checkout-free works. This can be frustrating, and you run the risk of them finding another brand better suited for their shopping needs.
- Customer-store relationship – Despite checkout-free being efficient and fast, there is a lack of interaction involved. Many customers still enjoy social interaction with a cashier, and can often be wary of their spending if they don’t physically use their card or do a contactless payment. Using a checkout-free system will play on user trust, and there won’t be as many staff members to aid them if there are any concerns or issues.
- Technical issues – With technology, any issues can crop up at any time. Whilst it is something fixable, if you only have a checkout-free option your entire store is subject to not working until said issue is taken care of.
What Does the Future of In-store Checkout Look Like?
Overall, customer experience is important and there are many tips to create in-store customer experiences. Incorporating an app-based platform, in-store events, and others will ensure users get to the checkout quickly and want to return. Merging scan-and-go options in-store is the next step in developing checkout experiences, utilising how users are currently behaving online and adapting it for brick-and-mortar stores to increase traffic and revenue.
Enhancing customer experience is vital, and in order to achieve this, companies have to look to new advances that enhance their store in order to continue to achieve conversions. Of course, as mentioned earlier, there are many types of consumers that need to be catered for, so ensure whichever demographic your brand caters to has a suitable experience so they keep coming back. Improve the retail checkout experience and keep up with future advancements, but slowly integrate these new checkout options for easy conversion and help customers adjust to new changes.