Is Frictionless Checkout Viable for All Customers?
NATIONAL REPORT — Frictionless checkout, an emerging technology that gives customers a seamless in-store shopping experience with little to no interaction — rivaling the speed and convenience of e-commerce — is experiencing rapid adoption in the retail world, including in the convenience channel.
E-commerce giant Amazon is credited as being the first to bring frictionless checkout to the U.S. retail market with the January 2018 opening of its Amazon Go store in Seattle. The store’s “Just Walkout Technology” enables customers to grab items off the shelves and walk out without checking out. Customers merely need to scan their smartphone using the Amazon Go app upon entry, and are charged for the goods picked up during their shopping trip upon exiting.
Just last month, convenience store chain Ricker’s announced that it will roll out Skip, a hybrid of mobile pay and the Amazon Go concept, to its 58 stores throughout Indiana. Skip's technology reduces the speed of checkout from an average of 60 seconds to an instant pay-and-go action controlled by the customer.
But is frictionless checkout viable for all consumers? Are certain types of shoppers more likely candidates to embrace cashierless technology? Might some be turned off by it?
Michael Suswal, co-founder and chief operating officer of Standard Cognition, a startup with its own artificial intelligence (AI) platform that allows buyers to grab what they want without having to go to a cashier, believes the technology has universal appeal.
“We’ve talked to more than 200 retailers in the last nine months and have seen interest from across all sectors. This suggests that retailers believe cashierless technology, like autonomous checkout, will appeal to all consumers,” he said. “It’s simply a better experience for both retailers and consumers.”
Although younger people are naturally more open to adopting new technology, Michael Jaszczyk, CEO of software company GK Software USA, says it is not primarily a question of age group.
“Recently, we released a new version of our POS [point-of-sale] software. We did the first user acceptance tests of the touchscreen UI [user interface] and I would say that 90 percent of our test group tried to ‘swipe left’ on a line item when asked to void it, just like on a smartphone when deleting an email,” Jaszczyk told Convenience Store News.
“We will see more and more functionality added into cashierless technology in the future to provide additional product information and recommendations,” Jaszczyk continued, “and these added value features will push adoption even further.”
For now, however, older generations are not using mobile devices or digital technology to interact with stores, which is the basis for frictionless checkout, pointed out Tracey Wiedmeyer, chief technology officer for InContext Solutions, a provider of enterprise mixed and virtual reality solutions focused on retail optimization and shopper engagement.
“Anyone who shops in this kind of store will need an app, and they’ll need to be OK with sharing some personal information — something that older-generation shoppers might be wary of,” he explained.
He acknowledges, though, that this is a generalization as there will be younger individuals who will also shy away from this kind of shopping, and older individuals who will be all-in with it.
As a whole, he sees Generation X and Generation Z shoppers being the strongest adopters.
“…Gen Xers and Gen Zers already regularly share information and leverage digital technology to help them do many things on a daily basis, one of them being shopping,” said Wiedmeyer.
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