Customers are increasingly looking for convenience, speed, and flexibility. And why wouldn’t they? New digital technologies are emerging to help busy customers find product information, aisle location, and the best deals digitally on demand, as well as enable them to skip the checkout line.
An example of the transition towards the "seamless" experience can be found through Kroger’s recent efforts. It recently announced it will be expanding its Scan, Bag, Go shopping technology to 400 stores in 18 operating divisions by the end of 2018.
Scan, Bag, Go technology enables customers to use a wireless handheld scanner or the Scan, Bag, Go app on their smartphone to scan products as they shop. It allows them to view and download digital coupons, see the current week’s ads, as well as keep a running total of the order. And while the app users currently must visit a store’s self-checkout area to complete their payment, that will change. Kroger states that "Customers will soon have the ability to provide payment directly through the app, allowing shoppers to exit the store even quicker."
IGD notes that both Kroger and Walmart are playing essential roles in advancing the seamless (combined digital and physical) shopping experience across the country. Walmart’s Scan & Go technology relies on a handheld scanner or phone app. Aside from Amazon’s highly publicized Amazon Go format in Seattle, several other retailers are actively exploring the elimination of the checkout process. Woodman’s Food Markets has introduced a ‘mobile shopper’ device on a trial basis. Fairway Market (New York) has gone with FutureProof Retail’s app to allow shoppers to scan and pay without needing to wait in line.
Checkout free shopping is a future that oozes with possibilities. But for now, most shoppers still wait their turn in the checkout area, sometimes feeling frustration toward slow shoppers at the front of the queue. The fact is that some shoppers are not eager to try new shopping experiences; according to a 2017 survey of North American shoppers, 23% would not be comfortable shopping at a store that had only self-checkout as an option.
As always, grocery retailers are faced with balancing the need for customer convenience with a responsibility for inclusion. Retailers must also consider shoppers who are not just technology-averse, but who have disabilities that make self-checkout difficult. For example, Tesco has introduced a "relaxed checkout" at a store in Scotland in partnership with Alzheimer’s Scotland. Store staff have been trained to operate at a speed that is comfortable to those with special needs or perhaps just folks who are uncomfortable with technology. "We want them to be confident they can shop at their own pace," one employee told the BBC.
Despite the way technology will transform the grocery shopping experience, one thing hasn’t changed. Whether your shoppers prefer the fast lane or a relaxed and personable experience, quality and value will always be at the top of their shopping list. RPCs can enhance your shoppers’ experience and make decision making easier when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables by providing the best in product protection and extending shelf life. Click here to learn more about retail-ready packaging to improve your fresh produce department.