Mobile Checkout Calls for a New Way to Merchandise Stores

Customers’ behaviors tend to be unpredictable and constantly evolving. Shoppers are often reluctant to try new technology or do without services they like and expect. However, when retail introduces new processes, and shoppers believe there is a clear benefit, there’s no going back. Good customer service is fundamental for any operation that expects to succeed in retailing. That typically means having enough well-trained cashiers to keep the checkout line moving quickly. Yet, the pandemic caused an upheaval in more ways than one—including self-checkout growth. 

Shoppers cite self-checkout as the most used technology in physical stores. Two-thirds of shoppers use self-checkout occasionally. Other factors contributing to the move to be more hands-on are preferences based on how different generations shop. Millennials and Gen Z consumers may avoid engaging with cashiers to better control how they allocate their shopping time. So, it comes as little surprise that the next evolution in self-checkout is mobile checkout. The process eliminates the need for customers to require human assistance before exiting the store—they simply scan, bag, and pay for their merchandise. According to a survey conducted by The Retail Tracker and LS Retail, contactless checkout is growing in popularity for several reasons.

  • 66 percent of customers use self-checkout because it is faster than cashiers
  • 60 percent prefer self-checkout to interact with a cashier
  • 66 percent of retailers are investing more resources into more convenient payment and checkout options

Mobile Self-scanning Continues to Expand
While cashierless stores are rare in most parts of the country, the ones people would be most familiar with are Amazon Go stores. Not only are there no cashiers, but essentially there is no checkout process. This may be off the radar for small businesses, but it’s essential to know what trends shape how large retailers structure their operations. “Mobile self-scanning is expected to expand strongly to a more diverse range of retailers and new geographies,” says Alex Maple, the senior research analyst for RBR, a self-scanning provider. “Whether it is scanning items using a smartphone or a handheld retailer-provided device, reducing friction and enhancing the shopping experience remains a key aim.”

Stores Change Merchandising Practices
Retailers are making significant investments in their stores to remove barriers that prevent customers from having a positive shopping experience. The point is to make purchasing merchandise in physical stores more convenient and enjoyable. Digital technology is being installed to support this goal. Additionally, stores must adapt how they merchandise high-demand products and impulse items to maintain sales consistency and profitability.

For big retailers like Target and Walmart, store design and merchandising align with the self-checkout experience. Before checking out at the front end of Walmart, shoppers have a wide assortment of impulse items to select. The flow of consumers to the registers has been modified to make it easier to make a quick purchase and leave.

Consider a Hybrid Approach
Some retailers may best serve customers by offering them the option to check out with a cashier or self-checkout. One study surveyed millions of consumers and discovered that customers with the highest consumer value and retention rates used both methods to make purchases. The labor shortage has been challenging, and big retailers may believe self-checkout is the only answer. However, the technology also causes frustrations and errors that unhappy shoppers frequently mention. Before changing how salespeople engage with shoppers, it’s critical to maintain the level of service customers want and expect from your business.  

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