self-checkout and no-checkout stores

Benefits for Present and Future

Retail technology is rapidly evolving due to consumers’ demand and their expectations, the growing industry and technological advances providing higher efficiency. Since retail is a very large sector, the technology evolving depends on many variables. When it comes to checkout, however, most consumers want shorter lines.

Self-checkout

The first self-checkout systems were installed in 1992 in the Price Chopper Supermarket in New York by the inventor of self-checkout, Dr. Howard Schneider. In 1997, NCR prototyped their first self-checkout machines. By 2003, these automated checkouts had become widespread.

POS self-service hardware varies from store to store, many of which still receive cash for the consumers of the older age group who are used to paying in cash and find self-checkout instructions unclear and automation unfriendly.

Nevertheless, most of the consumers find the self-checkout system highly beneficial. With an automated system, companies can save on various costs and wait times are reduced. Shoppers also gain certain value from taking control of the transaction by being able to scan their own goods and pack them the way they want. This sense of control can lead to greater consumer satisfaction and their wish to re-use self-service technology. Self-checkout systems have also become an ideal retention tool for those stores which have particularly large number of transactions.

No-checkout

Going a step further, Amazon opened its first no-checkout store in Seattle to the public in January 2018. It’s one of the significant milestones to battle war on time poverty in such a fast era. Aptly named Amazon Go, the store presents the latest technological craze when it comes to retail and a true revolution.

Amazon Go is a store that doesn’t require checkout. Consumers just need the app and then pick their items from the store, which are added to the virtual cart in the app, and go, literally. 

Upon entering the store, scanning gates only allow people who have the app installed inside, so it could know who’s entering the store and also prevent shoplifting. Even though Amazon isn’t disclosing many details about how the underlying system is working, it is known that Amazon Go utilizes computer vision technology, sensor fusion methods and machine learning technology to quickly identify different people in the store and objects being moved. 

This type of store is for every consumer, despite the category and age group. The benefits include the ultimate smoothness, convenience and no waiting lines or even self-checkout machines. On the other hand, consumers should be aware that the company could potentially track them and their phones while browsing the store to track items they buy. 

Altogether

The no-checkout technology is costly and extremely complicated to scale, bearing in mind every detail. Amazon delayed opening their store for about a year because they struggled to get the technology just right. This gives an idea of the complexity and difficulty of creating such a store with this technology and why others may not follow in a big hurry.

With six more stores in plan, Amazon is not the only one exploring no-checkout retail as many are entering this area, using different combinations of technologies, like BingoBox in China. 

Mastercard Transit Solutions is in a similar way working to simplify the daily commute through its “Tap and Ride” program, available in more than 150 cities. They offer contactless or mobile payment option to provide better experience for commuters and. The service is also able to reduce the cost of fare collection. This technology is now available in Kolín, Czech Republic and It helps the city optimize the whole public transport as shown in the video. 

Presently, self-checkout systems remain a viable option for eliminating tills and queues although they are not perfect. It is hard to imagine that, in the near future, the “Just Walk Out” technology will be in use in most stores due to its costliness which, for some, would not pay off.