Does the rise of eCommerce mean the end of brick-and-mortar retail? With household names such as Sears, Payless, and Toys “R” Us shuttering stores across the country, it’s tempting to assume that all shopping—including grocery shopping—will eventually take place in virtual spaces. Even major grocery chains such as Kroger and Safeway are rolling out their versions of the digital disruptions pioneered by Amazon, such as recommendation engines, subscription models and curbside (or same-day home) delivery.
Yet grocers can still hear the ringing of cash registers above the sound of these alarm bells. Far from disappearing from the grocery landscape altogether, new physical locations are popping up everywhere. As the National Retail Federation reports, 56 percent of all supermarkets are gaining rather than closing stores.
To remain competitive in this hybrid retail environment, more and more grocers are embracing technology that delivers online and offline benefits alike. Some of the best operational areas to target with innovative solutions are customer touchpoints. And no customer touchpoint is a better candidate for optimization than checkout.
Checkout Goes Mobile
What does the digital transformation of the checkout experience look like? Does it begin in the shopper’s home, in your store aisles, or once your customers are ready to queue up and pay for their purchases? And does it really end when they leave your store with receipt in hand?
Mobile checkout is a broad term that encompasses any checkout system that leverages smart handheld devices not anchored to a specific in-store location. These devices may be the property of the store, or they could be mobile devices customers bring with them into your store. With these smart devices, shoppers scan and bag items as they add them to their baskets. Some app-based mobile checkout technologies even facilitate the creation of shopping lists, allowing shoppers to prepare well in advance of their store visit, then quickly check off items as they move up and down your store’s aisles.
Once customers are ready to pay, they present the device and order total to an attendant at a checkout lane and complete their purchase. Alternately, you could equip your cashiers with portable scanners and mobilize them across the sales floor. Checkout could then theoretically happen anywhere or roam alongside your customers, so long as your devices remain connected to the internet.
Scan-and-go takes mobile checkout one step further. Shoppers still use a smart mobile device to scan items as they place them in their cart. When it’s time to check out, however, they can charge the total to a linked credit or debit card on the device or within the app, skipping the checkout lane altogether. Completing the transaction is as simple as presenting a digital receipt to a clerk stationed at the store’s exit.
App-based scan-and-go systems can also help grocers expand the customer experience outside the four walls of their store. Because purchases are recorded within the app and attached to a personal profile, grocers can leverage the data to push timely notifications of special offers, upsell via highly relevant coupons, and solicit product reviews and survey responses.
Front-of-store efficiencies: Is mobile checkout there yet?
Consumers are flocking to mobile checkout for one very compelling reason: they can spend less time standing in line.
For grocers, however, these solutions translate into increased flexibility. Imagine reclaiming some of the square footage in your floor plan occupied by conventional cash registers. After all, checkout lanes are spaces that are never in use 100 percent of the time. Or consider the possibilities for scaling quickly during high-volume periods on a daily, weekly or seasonal basis.
These benefits aside, the technology is more optimal for some use cases than others. Mobile checkout works best as an express option, that is, for customers who shop for 15 items or less and have a barcode that can easily be scanned. Bulk foods and produce—in other words, inventory that must be weighed—can thwart your queue busting efforts. Finally, any item whose barcode will not scan will still need an old-fashioned price check. Therefore, grocers should view mobile checkout not as a wholesale replacement for their existing hardware and software, but rather as an augmentation of their current processes and workflows.
Engage customers in the shopping experience with mobile checkout
As consumers grow more familiar with mobile checkout, they will come to expect its conveniences. As we’ve seen with UPCs and customer loyalty programs, today’s innovation is tomorrow’s baseline. Personalized omnichannel buying experiences will soon be the norm.
A trained cashier can almost certainly scan a cart full of goods much faster than your average shopper. Yet given the choice, most shoppers prefer active waiting than simply standing in line. Mobile checkout gives customers a sense they are constantly moving forward. They, too, value efficiency, especially when it comes to accomplishing a goal.
If deployed strategically, mobile checkout can help reduce the frustrations associated with shopping at peak hours. This allows your store to accentuate the positive aspects of the brick-and-mortar retail experience, while removing those aspects that cause shoppers friction. And these positive experiences can turn shoppers into loyal customers.
TRUNO can connect your grocery store with the mobile checkout solution that makes the most sense for both your business and your customers.