The future of self-checkout systems may be no checkout system at all—and the competition is getting real.
- Through AI systems, cameras, and motion sensors, companies are developing methods to allow customers to check out of the store without ever interacting with a cashier or stopping at a self-checkout station.
- These “frictionless checkout” systems rely on a customer scanning their phone or credit card upon entering or exiting the store. When done with shopping, the customer will receive an itemized receipt.
- Though a convenient system, this method of shopping does draw some criticism for removing jobs and collecting data for advertisers.
Why it’s news
Advances in AI technology and the labor shortage are driving an interest in developing technology to allow stores to operate with minimal in-person staff.
The advanced tech will also cut down on lines and wait time for customers leading to a more convenient shopping experience.
Amazon’s version of the tech known as Just Walk Out allows customers to walk into a store and be billed for items upon exit. The system is already in place at select Whole Foods, Amazon Go, and Amazon Fresh in addition to smaller scale stores at airports and sports stadiums.
Grabango is an app that offers a similar checkout experience. Though with this app, customers still stop at checkout kiosks before leaving the store. Supermarket chain Giant Eagle and gas stations Circle K, BP, and MAPCO all use this service.
Zippin allows customers to tap a payment card at a turnstile upon entering the store. The app tracks customers as they walk through the store. The tracking is linked to the users card. Dave & Busters and Barclays Center sports area use this method.
Another option still in development comes through grocery company Albertsons, which is testing a shopping cart that will tally customers’ grocery bill through a touchscreen on the front of the cart.
Backing Up a Bit
While these cashierless systems have many benefits, there are still a few bugs to work out of the system. Current self checkout systems often malfunction and need an employee to assist the customer. Self-checkouts also increase the likelihood of shoplifting.
In testing these systems, users have found errors in certain categories are still common—particularly in produce. For example, the machinery has difficulty differentiating between an organic apple and non-organic.
Shoppers still need to adjust to the new systems as well. Retail consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal found that customers still preferred a person at the checkout counter.