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Comment: Tensator CEO Alan McPherson on easing the transition to checkoutless technology

Launching in the UK in the latter part of 2017, Amazon Go has been branded as a revolutionary concept for in-store shopping. Utilising virtualised-tracking technology, this new method of retail will allow items to be added to a virtual basket when taken off, or returned to, store shelves. Customers simply scan their Amazon Go app, and items in their shopping bags are automatically processed and paid for as the shopper leaves the store.

While the concept isn’t entirely new - with companies such as Starbucks allowing customers to order and pay via a mobile app, then pick up their coffee in store - this will be the first use of the concept for a range of goods. Consumers will be able to pick up food, drink and electronics from under one roof –by simply walking in and walking out of the store with their goods.

Yet, while this concept breeds a lot of exciting possibilities, there will inevitably be a range of security and shopper processing headaches for retail bosses and consumers alike. In a Telegraph report last year, research found self-checkouts raised the rate of loss by 122 per cent, to an average of 3.9 per cent turnover. With self-service an increasing area of investment for supermarkets in particular, further emphasis on security and stock monitoring will be critical in ensuring retailers do not miss out on vital income.

Traditional forms of signage, such as posters and floor stickers, can help ease transitional fears in this respect - pointing out important security information when purchasing goods. However, there is evidence to suggest that we have become desensitised to the world around us: 84 per cent of retailers believe that digital signage, such as interactive information kiosks and virtual posters, are a significant driver in communicating more effectively with customers.

While there are many challenges that lie ahead with the introduction of checkout-less technology, there is undoubtedly huge potential for retailers to learn more about high street consumers than ever before. For example, if a consumer picks up an item then puts it back down, it can potentially be advertised as one to purchase next time via email marketing, similar to the way online shopping recommendations work via a user’s browsing history.

Human interaction will always have its place, but the application of digital and interactive technology can go a long way to enhancing the consumer journey and implementing a hugely successful venture for customers and retailers alike.

Alan McPherson is CEO of Tensator

 

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