ó Self-checkout is supposed to be a time-saver.
thatís before youíre admonished about an
"unexpected item in bagging area." Or before
you struggle to pick precisely which barcode-free apples
are in your cart ó Honeycrisp or Gala? Regular or
organic? Or before you accidentally hit the button to
pay with credit when you meant debit.
the time you trudge off in search of human help, the
reward for attempting to avoid the regular checkout line
is an even longer checkout process.
years, the theoretically appealing but too-often
irritating self-checkout experience hasnít changed
much. But now that many customers shop with smartphones,
retailers are trying to speed the process with
technology that can cut down the time spent waiting in
line, while helping stores cut labor costs or free up
cashiers for other tasks.
October, all Samís Club stores have offered a
smartphone app, Scan & Go, that lets customers scan
items as they shop and pay on their phone, skipping the
physical checkout counter entirely. An earlier version
let customers scan as they shopped but still required
payment at a traditional self-checkout machine.
Hyzny, of suburban Chicago, downloaded the app and tried
it for the first time at a Hodgkins Samís Club last
week. Heís wary of apps that want to store his credit
card info but said scanning was straightforward and sped
up his trip.
almost too easy," Hyzny said.
when Amazonís Seattle grocery store, Amazon Go, opens
to the public next year, shoppers will bypass checkout
lanes altogether, automatically charging their purchases
to their Amazon account.
has shared few details about how the technology will
work, beyond that it can track when items are removed
from shelves using some of the same technology that
powers self-driving cars. Even so, retail industry
observers expect Amazon will be the company that takes
the concept forward.
traditional self-checkout, Amazon Go isnít asking
customers to take on the cashierís role, using similar
equipment, but getting rid of checkout altogether, said
Neil Stern, senior partner at Chicago-based consulting
use Scan & Go, at Samís Club, a customer uses his
or her smartphone camera to scan each itemís barcode
as the shopper adds it to the cart. After a customer
pays through the app, an employee at the exit scans a
barcode the app displays on the customerís phone that
will show the employee a list of items paid for, to
check against the contents of the cart.
is still very much that legacy retail business of
manpower and people putting things on shelves. While
self-checkout is a step in the right direction, Amazon
Go feels like a giant leap forward," said Tom
Caporaso, CEO of e-commerce technology company Clarus
recently, convenience and grocery stores were more
worried about services like in-store pickup than better
self-checkout, said Wes Schroll, CEO of Madison,
Wis.-based mobile shopping company Fetch Rewards. Its
Shop Fetch app will be in 110 stores by January,
including several in the Midwest.
use that smartphone app to scan items as they add them
to a shopping cart, and the app totals purchases and
displays discounts and nutrition information. Shop Fetch
still requires users to pay at a traditional register
but transmits purchase information to the cashier to
speed the process, Schroll said.
the Amazon Go announcement, Schroll said interest in the
companyís technology has increased.
isnít a new idea, but less-than-seamless technology
may have been holding it back, said Stern, who described
Amazonís system as a "game-changer" if it
works as promised and if customers get on board with a
new way of shopping.
it might have been something nice to play around with.
Now itís something they have to take seriously,"
efficient checkout also means stores will need fewer
checkout lanes, freeing up space for more inventory, and
potentially fewer employees.
Scan & Go takes off, cashiers might be able to spend
more time doing other customer service tasks, but Samís
Club has no plans to eliminate traditional checkout
counters, Gee said. The warehouse club is keeping its
self-checkout registers too.
want people to get in and out of the club however they
want," Gee said. "This is just another