The Mobilization of the Checkout: What You Should Expect

Mobilization of the Checkout

After analyzing the evolution of the in-store checkout, you should know that retailers’ checkout systems in 2015 and 2020 will:  (1) no longer take place at a pre-determined place in the front-end of a store, (2) be faster, and (3) present shoppers with a range of payment and checkout options in an attempt to offer a more personalized experience.

While all of the new services and technologies being tested in the market today have strengths and weaknesses, their basic characteristics give us a rough idea of what to expect in coming years.


Checkout From Anywhere In-Store

Smartphone apps are a relatively new phenomenon, but the range of possibilities they bring to the table is staggering.  We need to be thinking: who will be affected when these tech advancements are perfected?

Employee-Operated Mobile POS

Sephora, Home Depot, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue are some examples of retailers offering employee operated Mobile POS systems in-store.  The stores, which have all benefited from high shopper-associate interaction in the past, do not require the customer to wait in line at the checkout station.   Sales associates in these stores are provided with iPod Touches or other mobile POS devices enabling them to process the shoppers’ payment from anywhere in the store.

The next step in the Mobile POS evolution is transactional smartphone applications where shoppers are able to check themselves out at the shelf!  As of October 2011, Apple customers can use the Apple Store App and the credit card connected to their iTunes account to check themselves out.  Once the payment has been submitted, the customer can simply walk out of the store, showing their digital receipt to an Apple Genius on their way out.

Apple Store App

These Mobile POS options will undoubtedly make the shopping experience less frustrating for shoppers.  But what about the retailers and the brands?

The mobilization of the checkout means that brands which have traditionally thrived off impulse purchases in the front-end will need to devise new strategies to reach shoppers.  As consumers, it means we could see an increase in the number of targeted promotions and advertisements on transactional apps and websites.  It could also mean that we will see retailers rethink product placement in-store.  Low ticket, high impulse items like candy, chocolate, and magazines that are traditionally found in checkout lanes will be displayed in more areas of the store.

Don’t be surprised if you see your favorite health & fitness magazines displayed in the health food & sporting goods sections of hypermarkets and department stores once these new technologies begin gaining traction.

What to Expect

These B2C, C2C, and B2B mobile payment solutions have not gained much traction in the market yet, but their potential to change the in-store experience is incredible.  Both shopper-operated and employee-operated mobile POS systems will continue to evolve to the point where we should be prepared to see a checkout counter-less store unveiled by a major luxury retailer before 2015.  I am not saying that every retailer will jump on the bandwagon, or that any retailer will have a nationwide roll-out of this concept by 2015.  However, I can say for sure that the first retailers to implement these services will be higher-end or luxury retailers.  These are the players whose bottom lines do not depend on the impulse buy.

Impulse Merchandising and Marketing Will Change Drastically – Discounters, c-stores, and mass merchandisers will need to devise a strategy, with their suppliers in mind, to maintain front-end sales before we see these technologies rolled out on a larger scale.  After all, a store’s traffic is based on the items it carries.  That said, the retailer needs the brands/suppliers to help drive consumers into its stores.  So, if a supercenter gets rid of its checkout counters, for example, it would no longer have the same relationship with CPG suppliers that thrive off the impulse sale of beverages and gum in the front-end.

Increased Personalized Offers – The increase in mobile shopping tools means that merchants will have a new, more targeted medium at their disposal.  They will be able to deliver targeted messages and promotions at the POS.

Increased Retention & Loyalty – The new mobile checkout solutions will eventually lead to digital receipts which will increase retailer-customer interaction outside of the store.

Labor Savings – Mobile tech will provide additional information about shelf stock levels, which will reduce the store maintenance costs as a whole.

Commerce Anywhere – Mobile payment solutions means customers have the ability to purchase at any point suring their day.  So, while there is a decrease in impulse buys at the checkout counter, there is an increase in impulse buys outside the store.

What do you think retailers and brands will do?

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About Sean Deale

Sean is a Retail Industry analyst at RetailNet Group LLC. His focus is on tracking the leading retail growth platforms and the strategies behind them.


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