Insights

Are Cashierless Stores the Future of Retail Shopping?

  • Adam Milne
  • By  Adam Milne
  • |
  • 87D32530-FD6E-468E-BB24-045278513D21 Created with sketchtool. 5 MIN READ
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  • 6BCC25D0-42B3-420B-8C28-C5D7EF3F6856 Created with sketchtool. Updated: August 4, 2021

Standing in a long billing queue at a grocery store and anxiously waiting for one’s turn is an experience that every shopper can resonate with. No matter how many checkout lines brick-and-mortar stores facilitate, ensuring a swift movement has been quite a task.

2% of US shoppers get frustrated when shopping in a store, with 86% annoyed at waiting for a refund, 52% angry about waiting to pay and 49% ready to boil over if they are unable to find what they want BusinessWire

However, it is the digital transformation in retail that has offered a ray of hope in the form of Cashierless stores. These modern brick-and-mortar settings are set to fast-track checkout lines that initially looked like a month of Sundays.

Retail technology is swiftly advancing to increase productivity and save retailers money. A significant change in recent years is the modification of cashiers by using both self and automated checkout.

With Amazon leading this transformation by setting up its Amazon Go cashier-less stores in a selected few cities, other chains are planning to follow in these footsteps. Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Kroger released announcements to start using similar technologies to enhance shopper’s convenience and decrease the waiting time of checkout lines. Additionally, new players with little to no retail background are also joining automated checkouts in China, France, the US, and other countries.

The Cashierless stores are the new disruptive concept in the retail space that is fast catching up and gradually gaining traction in the market. After all, it is a solution that offers a seamless shopping experience while skirting the pain points of customers.

What is Cashierless Technology?

what is cashierless technology

The cashier-less technology powered by Amazon go stores allows customers and shoppers to enter the stores by scanning the Go app and exit without standing at the checkout line.

Cameras and shelf-weighted sensors automatically track the customers and chosen items as they move around the store. Once the shopping is done, one can walk out of the store without scanning or interacting with the cashier. By the time shoppers leave the store, the payment gets processed automatically.

Cashier-less Stores – Pioneer of Phygital (Physical + Digital) Experience

self checkout at home depot

Amazon and Walmart, the Goliaths of the online grocery market have long been pioneers in the digital space where they have facilitated fast deliveries and secure checkouts.

Brick-and-mortar retail will incorporate digitally-enabled technologies to make stores more experiential and frictionless. Click and collect, cashier-less checkout, contactless payment, and digital signage will streamline in-store transactions. Increased emphasis on atmosphere and community-driven experiences will make retail more inviting. eMarketer

However, the challenges at the physical stores including streamlining the checkout processes were yet to be addressed. Now, with this breakthrough solution, Amazon leads the pack with the Cashier-less technology and super-simplified shopping experience for its brick-and-mortar shoppers.

In fact, after running a dozen convenience stores over two years as a proof-of-concept, they have recently opened the first biggest grocery store, Amazon Go Grocery in Seattle that spreads across 10,400-square-foot. This Cashierless store fends away the competition like a pro while adding on to matchless customer experience.

scan and go acceptance per retail vertical

Bid Adieu to Friction at Checkout with Cashierless Stores

One would only think of shoplifting if told that people now can just walk away with stuff from the grocery stores. But, in actuality, that’s how far we have come in the area of technological advancements. A business that adopts these seemingly futuristic mechanisms is certain to ensure a matchless customer journey and eventually draw more and more loyal customers.

And, with the first of these revolutionary stores already launched, the bar has been raised for other retailers. Brands like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Kroger, and 7-Eleven have joined/are joining in to offer an Amazon Cashierless store like experience.

The objective is simple – Offer omnichannel experience to the customers at every touchpoint.

The Working Behind this Grab-and-Go Experience

enhanced cashier-less store experience

Powered by deep learning, computer vision, data analytics, and AI-run algorithms, the cashier-less technology is finally going mainstream. Here is how these innovative stores work.

1. A Dedicated App

The smartphone or iPhone app is needed to enter the Cashier-less store. The app would prompt the user to scan the QR code for authentication. It is like the ticket that is mandatory to validate entry. It is the app again that aids in Cashierless checkout by billing the customers digitally once they step out of the store.

The app also records all the data about a user’s shopping behavior, thus it becomes easy to provide them with suitable recommendations on the digital platform. Thus, partnering with an experienced mobile development company should be a priority here.

2. Sensor Fusion

This comprises cameras and sensors that are located across the store to keep track of what item goes into the shopper’s cart. Where cameras oversee each and every move of the shopper, the sensors keep a record of the items displaced and put back on the shelf.

There are many, many, and many cameras that overlook consumers’ every single move within the store. With the help of computer vision, everything is captured and sent back to the central processing units for identification and recording. In short, the customer is never out of sight.

So, even if the item gets displaced and suddenly the customer changes their mind, the virtual cart automatically gets updated.

Not only that, there are weight sensors too that track the exact weight of each and every item. This means that no fooling will work here – something like trying to pick up two items in one go and presuming not being billed. Not a chance!

Here’s a demo that walks you through the newly launched Amazon Go store.

Isn’t it just wow?

Building your Cashierless Store – Where all do you Need to Spend

The most taxing thing about retail stores is the never-ending checkout lines. Amazon has successfully fixed the problem with the Amazon Go stores. For any organization looking to cut through the competition here’s a list of resources required.

  • Filing a patent
  • Manual Staffing
  • Building a responsive app
  • Deep Learning
  • Computer Vision
  • Sensors and cameras
  • Biometric installation
  • Unlimited inventory

It could take millions of dollars to implement the Cashier-less store in retail, but the returns that these stores offer are manifold. By the way, did you know that Amazon Go made Jeff Bezos $2.8 billion richer?

The Challenges of Cashierless Store Technology

Here are some challenges that are attracting backlashes for the Cashier-less systems.

1. What if a Customer puts back the item on the wrong shelf

A customer picks up peanut butter and changes his mind suddenly. He forgets where it was picked from and places it on the wrong shelf. That is a pretty haywire situation for the system.

Solution: Shelves can have a sensor that detects such errors, which means a customer won’t be charged for it. The manual staff can put the item in its place, and a customer can check their bills once they step out. This means that any discrepancies can be reported then and there.

2. Discrimination with Customers

A con of going cashless is that it is not a service-for-all. People with no credit cards or those wanting to use cash cannot access these stores. Even laws have been passed that restrict cashless stores from setting their foot in certain markets.

Philadelphia passed a bill rendering cashless stores like Amazon Go and Sweetgreen illegal and banning future establishments from completely abandoning cash The Wall Street Journal

Solution: Give an option to customers to shop the traditional way. Amazon Go did that too. People who do not have an app or a bank account can make manual entry and cash payments as well.

Conclusion

Convenience stores are changing the way people shop. Amazon Go with the “Just Walk Out” shopping experience has fascinated its customers. And with other established brands following the lead, it is safe to say that the future of retail is Cashierless stores.

It is time to adapt to the improving technologies and the opportunities they offer. While Cashierless stores pose a few challenges that are mentioned above, they can be efficiently solved with the right implementation of systems and processes. This way, a brand can embrace every aspect of digital transformation both online and offline to offer its customers a truly omnichannel experience.

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Adam Milne

About the Author

Adam is an experienced project and product manager with 5 years of experience with proven expertise in managing, leading and growing multi-cultural teams. He approaches work to inspire excellence, encourage team members to bring their best to each project. Adam thrives in competitive environments and gains maximum mental and output satisfaction from removing barriers and delivering successful outcomes. In his downtime, he prefer to bike around NYC, read and discover new pizza places.

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