When was the last time you experienced a cashier-less checkout? As time passes, this is becoming more and more common – but it has yet to be perfected by independent retailers in particular. That being said, AmazonGo reportedly has plans to open stores in as many six new venues in the coming year. On top of that, Walmart and Kroger recently got in on the equation with their respective “Scan & Go” and “Scan, Bag, Go” technologies, which the companies intend to roll out into 600 stores cumulatively in the coming year. HEB is reportedly also piloting cashier-less checkout, prompting many to ask… “who will be next?”
With retail evolving rapidly, it’s impossible not to wonder how cashier-less checkout will shape the future of retail. As a merchant – small or large – this is a reality you can’t ignore. Curious what that means for you? Explore some thoughts below.
Seamless Experience Without the Wait
In a world where the ability to do things quickly is a commodity, it’s no surprise that retailers like Amazon have begun to recognize and respond to customers’ desire to control their own checkout experience. Let’s face it…nobody likes waiting in line. Customers have an increasingly short attention span and unless a store has a celebrity guest or is debuting the latest streetwear style, they don’t want to wait in a long line to make a purchase. With cashier-less checkout, each customer rings up all of their own merchandise and they determine how long it takes them to ring things up and leave the store – avoiding potential delays from slow moving registers, other customers or even associates themselves. This strategy undoubtedly makes sense for big box retailers, but even independent stores can now incorporate this into their store environments. With the right in-store placement and right technology, cashier-less checkout is something any retailer can benefit from.
Becoming More Widely Available
Like any other wide-sweeping technological innovation, cashier-less checkout is now available to the masses. Cashier-less pilot stores are popping up everywhere from Co-op in Manchester to Meijer in Michigan. In addition to many big box stores rolling out their own versions of cashier-less checkout, there’s been an uptick in solution providers working to make cashier-less checkout a reality for retailers of all sizes. Tech startup AiFi is one of these solution providers and can create an app-based cashier-less checkout experience from any retailer’s existing in-store operation. However, they aren’t the only tech startup focused on making cashier-less checkout affordable for retailers: AI-based AVA has partnered with Mastercard to bring cashier-less shopping experiences to more mainstream retail companies – reinforcing that cashier-less isn’t going anywhere. With the number of companies offering alternative checkout solutions constantly growing, it is only a matter of time before cashier-less check out becomes the new normal for retailers of all sizes.
The Pace of Implementation
Whether you’re an ardent tech enthusiast or you still make your calls from a flip-phone, it’s important to remain aware of your options to advance your in-store operations through new advancements in technology. It will still be a few years before cashier-less checkout becomes a must for all retailers, yet retailers who are the first to implement it into their stores will have the opportunity to benefit from plenty of free press and customer accolades. If this is you, leverage this opportunity to gain some attention in your local marketplace. After all, if Amazon has taught us anything it is that being a trendsetter in the retail industry can benefit your bottom line. Even if partnering with an AI solution provider such as AiFi and AVA is still too far in the future for your company, it is worth noting that the focus in retail has shifted towards offering customers an easier, more frictionless checkout experience.
Compete Without the Investment
If cashier-less checkout isn’t on the radar for your company right now, you can still optimize when you staff your employees to ensure you aren’t understaffed during peak sales times…and that there is always an associate ready to help any customers that come in. Solution providers such as Lightspeed POS can help you to identify when your store(s) are historically the busiest, so that you can make sure that you always have the right people on the sales floor to help customers. In retail as in other areas of life, knowledge is power and having all of the information on what’s trending in the retail industry is key to maintaining a competitive retail operation.
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By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, RetailMinded.com