The end of the checkout area in brick and mortar stores

With companies like Amazon actively pursing their version of the future brick and mortar store, one thing is certain: a dedicated checkout area will be a thing of the past. The checkout process of the (very near) future won’t require point of sale systems. People will just take the items they want to buy and leave the store.
To make this kind of checkout a reality, businesses have to build a system where cameras are able to look into every corner of the shop and track every single customer (like Amazon does in its Amazon Go Stores). While this is certainly possible, this kind of systems are still very costly and still require considerable investments for hard and software. If deployments of bluetooth beacon navigation systems are a indication for the complexity, the setup process of such systems will require many hours of work.

There must be another way.

While this fully automated future is certainly exiting, we can already build a self checkout/self payment system today. With an app on the smartphone/smartwatch of the customer and connecting the app with exiting online stores, we are able to build self checkout systems that provide customers a self checkout/self payment experience already today. In SOLOMON, we are currently implementing such kind of a system with Morawa, an Austrian Bookstore chain. The basic process is very simple:

  1. A customer scans a barcode of a book that she wants to buy with the existing Morawa app
  2. The app asks if the customer wants to buy the book
  3. If the customer agrees, the app triggers the purchase process of the online store in the backend, checking payment modality, etc.
  4. The customer gets a confirmation in the app that she has bought the book.

The beauty of this approach is that the integration costs are minimal: basically, all a business needs is an app with a barcode scanner and the connection of the app to an online store payment system. Also, there are no additional costs for running the self checkout hardware, because your customers bring the hardware. And they do all the work. Nice, isn’t it?

But What about theft?

In an ideal world, business wouldn’t have to deal with this issue. However, depending on the cost of security measures (e.g., electronic tags), some businesses forgo implementing physical security measures. The reason is that they are simply too expensive (in comparison with the products they sell) and rather count on the honesty of the customers (and the vigilance of their personnel).
Nevertheless, in SOLOMON we are developing an anti theft solution that integrates electronic tag handling seamlessly into the self checkout process.


[2] Self-Checkout

[3] Morawa App

Posted in Retail, SOLOMON, Technology and tagged , .

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