Seamless Checkout in Retail – Trend or Hype?

Seamless or cashierless checkout is one of the most discussed current trends in the retail market. Is it a trend or is it here to stay?

Time to consume: 2.5 min
17 June 2022

By Ulrich Spaan

Just walkout- technologies

Everyone who has visited the latest edition of EuroCIS, Europe’s leading trade fair for retail technology, had the opportunity to get a good overview of one of the most discussed current trends in the retail market – the seamless or cashierless checkout. From traditional self checkout terminals and Scan & Go Solutions to “just walkout” technologies and smart shopping carts: A large number of exhibitors was displaying the latest developments around how the to make the consumer’s shopping trip as convenient and easy as possible. But will the checkout really be revolutionized in the sense of an elimination of the traditional tills? Most likely not. As always if new technologies arise, their success depends on various factors and can often not be generalized. In the end, the customer acceptance will be decisive, and this depends on a number of factors which need to be explored by testing.

No one wants to be left behind

Lately, almost every large grocery retailer in Europe has started piloting autonomous store concepts. Some have trialed app-based scan & go solutions, quite often as a hybrid form in combination with traditional checkouts.

Others like the Germany based regional retailer Tegut… have launched a very stylish and sustainable “Mobile Container” which is especially designed for the use in rural areas.

And then there are some retailers which are following the “high tech” approach originally started by Amazon and are piloting fully automized stores which use sensors and cameras supported by AI and create a “just walkout” experience. It is still too early to say which of the self-service choices will be appreciated most by the customer, but it is for sure that the solution needs to make the checkout process as convenient as possible. Customers won’t accept solutions which are too complex, buggy or not ergonomically designed. It needs to be a clear advantage, either in speed or efficiency of the shopping trip or a seamless integration of the retailer’s loyalty scheme which offers significant advantages for a customer using the seamless checkout alternative.

Reducing operational costs with cameras and sensors

For the retailer, there are also possibilities for reducing operational costs and improving store efficiency for example, by using the combination of sensors and cameras on the shelves, to identify out of stocks more quickly and to automate inventory management.

The near future will tell

Most likely, not every location is suitable for every kind of cashierless checkout solution and especially when it comes to fully automated concepts, in the beginning, there will be a focus on smaller stores in highly frequented areas. The question then will be, if these solutions can also be rolled out to a larger extent and in the long run generate profitability. The next 1-2 years will surely create a clearer picture of how the checkout of the future is going to look like