With the introduction of online shopping, many brick-and-mortar retailers have noticed a decline in sales – primarily because if the same product can be ordered, and the need isn’t immediate, many would rather pay a minimal fee than wait in line. However, many retailers are now implementing programs or apps that allow for cashier-less checkout – simply grab whats needed and go!
Amazon is leading the shift towards more innovative physical locations with their offset Amazon Go. As described on their website, “Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout.”
Grocery shopping changed several years ago with the launch of delivery services like Instacart, Prime Now, and Shipt; so enticing customers to come back to a physical location required a shift in thinking. With only seven open locations, if remains to be seen if Amazon Go’s service will be the future of shopping, although we may get our answer soon. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is reportedly working on adapting its Amazon Go automated store technology to work in larger-format stores – like their grocery chain Whole Foods.
Depending on the depth (and efficiency) of this roll-out, we may start seeing more retailers join the “just-walk-out” movement. Technology that allows customers to leave without having to check out has proliferated this year, and not only in the grocery world.
Retailers including Nike have implemented in-store technology that allows customers to buy items with just a smartphone. It’s not quite the extensive plan Amazon has for its stores, but it has a similar result: skipping the lines before the cashier.
Nike’s recently debuted Instant Checkout allows customers use the Nike app to instantly purchase items, which they can then take home from the store with no questions asked: all they have to do is point the app at the item’s barcode. Small kiosks are littered throughout the store, with bags for shoppers to take and use as well as a place to ditch hangers.
Somewhere between Nike’s instant purchase and Amazon Go rests Ahold Delhaize: a Dutch international retailer with 35 supermarket brands around the world. The checkout-free stores they’re launching will allow customers to pay for groceries with an app or a “tap to go” card: Consumers can use the card to tap on a shelf tag for the items they want. Then, 10 minutes later, the customers’ bank accounts are automatically debited for the amount they spent. There are no long lines, cashiers or wait times.
The shift towards completely automated retail stores has been a slow one, but as technology advances more and more companies are starting to invest and make the move.