Is the End of Checkout Lines in Your Future?

90% of U.S. adults want their supermarket checkout experience to be faster. In spite of the widespread availability of self-checkout aisles, express lanes, and more efficient scanners, current checkout options just aren’t enough to satisfy our need for speed. But your days of agitated toe tapping by the tabloids may eventually come to an end.

At FARM, we’re always looking ahead to emerging trends and technologies, especially in the retail industry. So, we weren’t surprised that one of the advances that got our attention was being developed by retail behemoth and efficiency pacesetter, Amazon.

Amazon is currently preparing to launch the first no-checkout store: Amazon Go. With Amazon Go, simply tap your smartphone on a turnstile as you enter the store to automatically log on to the store’s network. Once inside, the items you pick up are added to a virtual cart on the Amazon mobile app by electronic sensors. And if you change your mind on an item, just place it back on the shelf to remove it from your cart.

When you’re done shopping, you can exit the store without ever having to stand in line. Amazon charges your account and sends you a receipt. Amazon calls this revolutionary process “Just Walk Out Shopping.”

Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store is presently being tested by employees in their Seattle offices, but they plan on opening their checkout-free experience to the public sometime early this year.  Other grocers will be watching, because if the new technology takes off, it may impact their bottom lines. And if that’s the case, it won’t be long before many stores employ similar tactics.

No-checkout shopping gives you the benefits of “click-to-buy” online shopping, while preserving the tactile experience of a traditional trip to the grocery store—with no shipping necessary.

Of course, even the shiniest innovations come with their disadvantages. Specifically, you’ll need the mobile app; and believe it or not, not everyone carries a smartphone. No-checkout stores also eliminate jobs and the human interaction that many of us welcome when deciding between flat-leaf and curly parsley. And, like with all technological advances, retailers will need to address new security issues they’ve never dealt with before.

For example, Amazon currently uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to encrypt customers’ credit card numbers and will refund any fraudulent purchases, which makes the site generally considered a safe shopping destination. However, that perception could change with physical stores and the potential need for different security measures or systems customers are familiar with.

Could this be your shopping experience in the future? Well, just like with your current trip to the store, you’ll have to wait and see.

Greg Bauch

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