Retailers go cashierless to improve customer experience

26 Oct, 2020 . 4 minutes

As technology advances, more retailers are opening cashierless stores with AI-powered and next-generation technology. This checkout-free model is now disrupting the retail industry for a seamless shopping experience. Amid growing demand for frictionless payment systems, PYMNTS's Automated Retail Tracker projects the cashierless retail market to grow to around $50 billion. The trend is considered a solution to often long checkout lines during peak hours, causing up to 11 percent of shoppers to abandon their purchases.

With all processes automated, the cashierless system removes long checkout lines. Shoppers can use self-service checkout kiosks or mobile apps that automatically charge for the items they want to buy. While the implementation may vary between developers, most offer the most recent touchless and AI-based technologies. With automation starting to replace high-exposure jobs, retailers turn to healthier and more cost-efficient smart solutions. A recent Brookings Institution report showed 70 percent of high-exposure jobs will soon be performed by machines using current technology. Given the ease of installation and sustainability of operating systems, cashierless technology is considered by many experts as an opportunity to upgrade the retailer's performance. This has started to see more retailers shifting to cashierless stores.

Harley Feldman, co-founder and CMO of Seeonic, Inc., said cashierless stores have become the future of the retail landscape as they increase convenience and require less manual work. Shifting from the traditional retail experience, developers such as Amazon, Grabango, AiFi and Zippin are competing to roll out the best smart checkout technology. The pandemic has been leveraging cashierless technology to a new glorious era since Amazon Go introduced it in 2016.

Amazon Go with its "Just Walk Out" technology removes the checkout process using a combination of smartphone-equipped shoppers with in-store cameras and sensors to track items. Its first cashierless grocery store concept, Go Grocery, opened in Seattle on February 25 and is ready to serve shoppers during the so-called new normal. In September, Giant Eagle also launched an AI-powered checkout-free technology. Powered by Grabango, Giant Eagle GetGo is operational in one of its Pittsburgh-area stores. Giant Eagle is also looking forward to providing a more convenient, contactless, shopping experience with the new system at a Giant Eagle Market District store in the Pittsburgh metro area.

Likewise, Tesco opened a second cashless store in central London after the success of its headquarters in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Its cashless stores offer a nearly cashierless experience as it excludes the checkout lanes for a restricted range of products and accepts contactless payments, including Apple Pay and Tesco Pay+. Besides big retailers, cashierless technology also extends its reach to the convenience store. 7-Eleven rolled out its cashierless pilot concept at its headquarters in Irving, Texas in February. The 700-square-foot cashierless store will provide customers with a new shopping experience.

Keeping up with the trend, the University of Houston partnered with cashierless tech startup Standard to transform its convenience store and offer safe transactions. According to a press release on GlobeNewswire, the platform makes the checkout experience completely touchless and provides a fast, cashierless retail experience. Techpreneur Ilker Koksal explained that customers will gain more benefits from checkout-free technology. As of today, the checkout-free shopping experience builds to bring better relationships with customers, giving space to offer flexible payment options and to drive customer engagement. Experts consider automation an enabler of business expansion, cost-efficiency and revenue growth. Now the final decision lies in retailers' commitment to adopting digital technology and embracing the fact cited in a PYMNTS report that 69.5 percent of shoppers want to buy more in unattended retail channels.

"A commitment to digital technologies is a competitive difference that is currently causing massive disruption in the channel," said Bethany Allee, EVP of Marketing at Cybera.

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