Imagine walking into a store, choosing a product, standing in a long line to pay and then getting into an argument with a cashier. Now, imagine walking into a store and getting personalised attention, choosing products that are customised to your needs and finally no queues while checking yourself out in a frictionless environment. Which one would you visit again? The answer is obvious.
While e-commerce retailers are working towards seamless payment gateways complete with last minute customised offers, there is an even bigger opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers here.
Though offline stores are still far ahead in terms of generating revenue as compared to e-commerce, online sales are growing at a much faster rate than sales in physical stores. With the aid of technology, brick-and-mortar retailers are implementing and adding so much to their service quotient – self/ cashier-less checkout systems, PoS innovations, VR and AR solutions, loyalty programs, Cash on Delivery, Card on Delivery, same day delivery and expanding mobile payments to customer loyalty programs.
Research & Impact
A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that retail spend at frictionless payment stores like Amazon Go will grow from an estimated US$ 253 million in 2018 to over US$ 45 billion by 2023. Juniper expects most of these transactions to be in convenience and general stores, with an average transaction value around US$ 30 per visit throughout the forecast period.
The new report, Future In-Store Retail Technologies: Adoption, Implementation & Strategy 2018-2023, also found that self-scanning apps, an alternative to ‘Just Walk Out’ technologies, will be used by over 32 million shoppers by 2023; driving higher engagement.
In a recent study titled ‘11th Annual Global Shopper Study’, Zebra Technologies Corporation identified diverging expectations on the impact of automation between retailers and store associates.
According to the study, nearly 80 percent of retail decision-makers – compared to 49 percent of store associates – agree that staff checkout areas are becoming less necessary due to new technologies that can automate checkout. It further stated that more than one-half of retail decision makers (52 percent) are converting points-of-sale i.e. their POS space to self-checkout and 62 percent are transforming it for online order pickup.
Another report by Global Market Insights, Inc. states that self-checkout systems market size is set to exceed US $ 4 billion by 2024. Growing supermarket penetration is driving the self-checkout systems market growth. The industry growth can be attributed to the presence of a large number of supermarkets, department stores, hypermarkets, home improvement stores, and other retail chains in North America and Europe. Several large retail chains are constantly upgrading and leveraging self-checkout technology to best meet customer needs. For example, McDonald’s updated over 500 restaurants in 2016 with mobile payment options, self-order kiosks, and an updated interior design and table service. In the U.S., the retail self-checkout market is highly competitive with vendors focusing on providing differentiated and innovative products along with top-notch after-sales services.
The self-checkout systems market has seen a shift from traditional kiosks to cashless systems, leading to the evolution of unstaffed store concepts. In China, several consumers have been using mobile payment apps, such as WeChat Pay (Tencent) and AliPay, which are the two most popular and prominent mobile payment services in the country. According to the People’s Bank of China, in 2016, mobile payment transactions totaled 25.7 billion, with a transaction volume of about US $ 20 trillion. Themobile payment market in China is essentially a duopoly with Tencent and Alibaba holding almost 90 percent of the mobile payment market share, followed by Chinese card network UnionPay.
Manufacturers in the industry are working toward creating unique solutions to meet the needs of the Chinese market such as mobile payments and scan & go concepts. The intensifying price competition in the region can be attributed to the presence of a large number of suppliers in China.
While Wi-Fi will continue to remain the biggest engagement point for customers, Juniper expects smart checkout apps to act as gateways to technologies like Bluetooth beacons and augmented reality. The development of virtualized beacons, where an antenna array simulates the presence of multiple beacons, will increase revenues for beacon manufacturers. These revenues will grow at an average annual growth of 49 percent, reaching over US$ 1.5 billion by 2023; beacon shipments will only grow at 21.5 percent per annum.
Here’s a list of retail chains with self-checkout systems & beyond
The new 3,000 sq. ft. the Decathlon store in Noida has redefined the way people buy sportswear through it’s highly involving and experience-centered stores. At its newly launched store in a DLF Mall, Noida, the brand banks upon digital services such as self-checkout counter, scan and pay app for billing to improve the buying experience.
“With Decathlon Scan & Go, customers can simply scan and pay for items using their smartphone, automatically disabling the RFID security tag to leave them free to exit the store without any need to queue or wait at the checkout,” explains Sylvain Deschamps, City Sports Leader, Decathlon Noida.
Eliminating the need for queuing has been one of the key competitive advantages driving the success of online retail over the last decade. The store has dedicated sections for women, men, children and teenagers. Its dedicated space for fitness aficionados adds another dimension to this outlet, while the community space provides customers an opportunity to practice their favourite fitness activities – be it augmented reality golf, simulator zone or skating rink. It is nothing less than a sportsman’s paradise offering 50 sports and more than 5,000 sports products under one roof.
Apart from the self-checkout services, the store also has:
Digital Screens: The digital screens highlight the sporty story of the employees of Decathlon. The brand hires only sportsperson as its employees.
Augmented Reality Golf: The brand has brought the fun of playing golf inside its store by introducing augmented reality golf. It gives the same pleasure of playing golf as in the golf course.
Activity Areas: The store has dedicated areas for various sports activities like Basketball, Cricket and even an elevated bridge to check the grip of trekking shoes.
Community Area: The consumers can get engaged in various discussions related to sports along with participating in activities like Zumba, Hula Hoop, Football Freestyle and Rep wars to name a few.
Product Story: Highlights the technicality of the products, its usage and durability along with the price.
Currently, it has already been operating around 12 outlets in NCR and 70 outlets across India.
SPAR has always been to be a hypermarket that is known for value and differentiation. SPAR Hypermarkets’ customers are family consumption groups with both value as well as aspirational needs. They range from the affluent segments to the pure value-seeking segments. The majority of customers belong to the 25+ age group. There is a healthy mix of demographics and age groups that visit the stores.
SPAR India has been at the forefront of innovation. SPAR’s true innovation has been the Digital Kiosk which has been installed in one of the biggest technology parks – Manyata Tech Park in Bengaluru and has been successful in delivering a unique and easy shopping experience. The Digital Kiosk has a simple and easy to use shopping touch screens through which a customer can access the complete virtual hypermarket and order and get same day delivery. Located in one of the largest tech parks in Bangalore, the first digital kiosk has been a great hit.
Apart from that the brand has introduced:
Self-assist Kiosks: Installed at key locations in-store to help customers find products with ease.
Self-Checkout Kiosks: Where customers can pay their own bills without hassle. Design Your Home Studio: Customers can mix and match home décor products virtually and visualize how it would look in their home.
Kids’ Pad: Entertains kids with interesting games and interactive displays. Energy Management: SPAR monitors and tracks electricity consumption of equipment with a tracking system. Shop Floor Assistance Mobility App: Provides easy and quick information on stock availability.
With technological advancements, shopping experience has greatly evolved and Lifestyle, as a progressive retailer, has embraced many of these progressions to further enhance customer experience.
The fashion retailer, which is known for offering men’s, women’s and kids’ apparel, footwear, handbags, fashion accessories, beauty products and much more, all under the same roof, has added features such as ‘Self-Checkout Kiosk’, ‘Mobile POS’, Fitting Room Assistance’, etc., to augment its in-store experience.
Explaining the innovations that the brand has introduced for billing, Vasanth Kumar, Executive Director, Lifestyle says, “The Self-Checkout kiosk is a facility that allows customers to bill their merchandise and complete the payment transaction in a few simple steps on their own. The Mobile POS which we have introduced is for billing some of our products such as watches, fragrances or cosmetics.”
“The other innovations that we have introduced include our Fitting Room Assistance program that has emerged from our insights into our customer shopping behaviour, allows for size retrieval with the help of technology. For our e-commerce business, we have introduced visual search and enabled voice-based search on our apps which has helped creating a more personalised and convenient shopping experience,” he adds.
Innovation, today, is the tool that allows brands to ensure a frictionless journey from discovery to purchase for the customer. And Lifestyle is no far behind.
“We have introduced ‘Click & Collect’ – an Omnichannel initiative that allows customers to order online and collect merchandise from a Lifestyle store of their choice. Our in-store Endless-Aisle initiative helps a customer to find her missing size on our online channel,” he further elaborates.
Several of initiatives that the brand has taken are technological solutions to real customer problems which they discovered through their interaction with customers as well as staff . Using this feedback, they have created simple yet impactful solutions leveraging technology. These have led to positive impact on their overall customer experience and helped increase engagement with the brand.
“We are continuously evolving our stores with new technologies. To fully enable our customers to enjoy these new introductions, it is important for our sales personnel to understand, communicate and comfortably operate all new innovations. Before implementing any new technology or introducing product innovation, our entire store team goes through an extensive knowledge session, which enables them to understand the product/technology being introduced,” says Kumar.
Lifestyle regularly tracks consumer satisfaction through NPS (Net Promoter Score) in store, by the virtue of offering, staff interactions, store ambience and consistently deliver an overall delightful shopping experience thereby winning customer trust and loyalty.
“We have also launched ‘Lifestyle Edge’, an exclusive program for our premium customers in Chennai and Pune and soon we will be expanding this to other cities,” says Kumar.
Supermarket chain HyperCity has unveiled a brand new type of retail store in India – self check-out, cashier-less stores. These two stores are located in Infosys’ Hyderabad campuses. While the stores are not fully unmanned – some customer support and fulfillment staff are on the premises – customers are expected to check out themselves, shortening their shopping time since they don’t have to stand in queues to be billed.
The checkout process is automated via the Perpule 1Pay app. Customers can scan barcodes on products as they shop, generate an invoice and pay, and leave. Payment options include debit/credit cards, net banking, mobile wallets and even UPI.
Also, as of now, following payment one needs to take the items bought over to a weighing machine, which has a camera fixed to it to verify that the customer is only taking the items paid for. However, this works only if the number of items are five or less. For larger purchases, a staff member does a physical verification.
The app supports multiple digital payment gateways and cards for self-checkout, including debit card, net banking, e-wallets and UPI systems.
Myntra successfully launched a new store for Roadster – one of the most popular and leading outdoor lifestyle brands in the country. Called ‘Roadster Go’, the offline store is located at Vega City Mall in Bengaluru and inherits the legacy of brand Roadster’s hi-tech fashion Omnichannel experience, which is the first of its kind in the country.
The first ever ‘Roadster Go’ store has been launched at Mantri Mall in Malleshwaram in 2018, introducing visitors to a slew of technological innovations to enhance customers shopping experience and bringing online and offline experiences under one roof. Spread across an area of 3,200 sq. ft., the store is the brand’s biggest yet. As a 100 percent RFID (Radio-frequency identification) enabled store, shoppers can pick up their favourite products without any assistance, discover real time online prices and do a self-checkout in 30 seconds, making it smarter, faster and seamless.
The RFID enabled digital screens at the store offer shoppers detailed information about a particular product when held up against it; shoppers discover all the product features on models wearing them (studio images) including fabric, washes, suitability to body type, color matching, availability of size and more. Customers buy all the products at real time online prices which they discover on the digital screen when they hold the product up against it. They also initiate a 30-second self-checkout by placing all the products in the RFID tray which captures product details and display the bill on the screen, which is paid using a debit/ credit card, upon confirmation, eliminating the need for scanning individual products or removing security tags from each garment. Shoppers experience all these functions and more, requiring no intervention from staff at the outlet, unless requested for.
“Roadster has shown how fashion and technology, when integrated, create unique experiences that take offline shopping to a new level. As a pioneer in Omnichannel fashion, Myntra is committed to strengthening its offline presence through a franchise model and offer new experiences to engage customers and make shopping fast and seamless through technology,” Amar Nagaram, Head, Myntra Jabong, says.
Metro Shoes has been delighting customers with its footwear range, but it also needs to be complimented for the way the check-outs are taken care of where the wait time is not only negligible, but it offers a fantastic human touch with the goodness of technology seamlessly weaved in. Metro Shoes has ETP POS system across all our stores. This is in the process of being upgraded to get a near to real time view of store inventory. It involves faster updates and the ability to fulfill Omnichannel orders without toggling between screens.
At any given point of time, the salesman accompanies the shopper to the cash counter and the person behind the till effortlessly bills the customer without bombarding him with plethora of options and information on loyalty points and other reward programs. And considering the brand launched itself much before the advent of internet in India, it has not failed to keep up with the ever-changing dynamics of technology.
Next: Check out these global retail chains with self-checkouts & beyond
AMAZON GO: REVOLUTIONIZING CHECKOUT
Adding more to cashier-less and self-checkouts, Amazon has gone one step ahead than the rest. Amazon Go is a new retail concept store with no cashiers. Launched in Amazon’s hometown, Seattle, customers can fill their shopping carts in Amazon Go and walk out – with the costs tallied up and billed on their accounts with the US online giant.
Customers use an app called ‘Go’ to enter the store. Then Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.
When consumers are done shopping, they can just leave the store. Shortly after, the company will charge the consumer’s Amazon account and send them a receipt. According to Amazon Go’s webpage, the app uses the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. All one needs to use the store is an Amazon account, a supported smartphone, and the free Amazon Go app.
In a move that could revolutionise the way we buy groceries, Amazon opens its first supermarket without checkouts — human or self-service — to shoppers.
Amazon Go, in Seattle in the US, uses an array of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify each customer and track what items they select, eliminating the need for billing. Purchases are billed to customers’ credit cards when they leave the store.
Before entering, shoppers must scan the Amazon Go smartphone app. Sensors on the shelves add items to the bill as customers pick them up – and deletes any they put back.
Auchan, one of France’s leading retail groups, has opened several shops without checkout counters in China. “The operation of Auchan Minute is very simple and intuitive. To enter, the customer uses the application WeChat. At the entrance, it scans a code that opens him the doors of this automated shop and identifies it,” Xinhua news agency quoted Auchan as saying in a statement.
After scanning the products, they are automatically added to a virtual cart. The customer takes the products after paying them via Wechat Pay or AliPay and validating them by the mobile, the company added.
Auchan is set to introduce self-checkout at seven locations in Hungary this year, with the rest of stores to follow in 2020. A self-checkout system at the Óbuda Auchan started operations in July. The company says it will make shopping more convenient as well as faster. Self-checkout was first introduced at the Budakalász Auchan, with the Óbuda outlet following suit after a one-month test period. By the end of 2019, the stores in Budaörs, Dunakeszi, Maglód, Soroksár, and Albertfalva will also receive the new self-checkout system.
Zara introduced self-checkout kiosks in the store to ease the pain of standing in long queues for billing. Customers can check out on their own and make the payment just by following a few simple steps.
Zara’s new two-storey shop, at Westfield Stratford City is one major example of it. The store has a dedicated area for the purchase and collection of online orders on the first floor, in addition to the usual sections for women’s, men’s and kids’ lines. This online area features two automated online order collection points, serviced by a concealed area that can handle 2,400 orders simultaneously.
Shoppers scan QR or PIN codes they receive when they place orders online. Behind the pick-up point, a robotic arm collects trays and organises the packages optimally according to their size and delivers orders in seconds.
There is a self-checkout area with a system that automatically identifies products being purchased. Zara staff with iPads will also be able to accept payments. The store has a fully open entrance on the ground floor, with no glass.
Walmart InHome Delivery is a new service designed to help customers save time and off er yet another convenient choice for grocery shopping. The service does so by delivering groceries even when customers can’t be home. Here’s how it works: Customers place a grocery order and then select InHome Delivery and a delivery day at checkout
– Customers can then go about their days while a Walmart associate takes care of their grocery shopping for them – from food aisle to fridge
– At the time of delivery, associates will use smart entry technology and a proprietary, wearable camera to access the customer’s home – allowing customers to control access into their homes and giving them the ability to watch the deliveries remotely