Will Scan and Go Tech Bring Autonomous Retail to the Mainstream?
Autonomous retail, spearheaded by Amazon’s Go concept, may be on the rise, but it comes with a high price tag. It also arguably removes too much friction from the in-store experience, reducing points of connection between retailer and customer.
There is an alternative. shopreme’s mobile self-checkout and scan and go technology enables retailers to offer an autonomous retail experience at a lower cost. It’s quicker to implement and doesn’t require an overhaul of the entire existing store.
We spoke to Chief Commercial Officer Nico Müller about the advantages of mobile self-checkout over autonomous retail concepts and how it can support the customer relationship.
Nico Müller, Chief Commercial Officer, shopreme
What is the current opportunity for mobile self-checkout and scan and go technology?
People love brick-and-mortar stores. That has always been the case. People really love the experience of going into the store and touching the product or trying it on.
At the same time, mobile self-checkout – where people use their own mobile device to scan products and pay – really took off during the pandemic. It provided a safe way of shopping. This was also boosted by some of the largest retailers in the world, like Walmart and IKEA, adopting the technology.
They saw that customers loved using this technology and that it enhanced the retail experience. We’re now seeing many of the largest retailers in the world wanting to replicate that success or wanting to create an outstanding experience for their customers.
As with every key technology, there is this process, where at the start, it is mainly enthusiasts using it. Then more people start using it, but the experience might not be quite there yet. Then the retailer and the technology provider use what they’ve learned to improve the experience, and the technology really takes off.
That’s important because retailers want to not only create a great experience for the customers but also see some return on their investment.
We now have hundreds of stores rolled out in continental Europe with trusted senior retailers. The technology is there. When consumers see that others can jump the queue, scanning the products and just leaving the store, that is a great advertisement for the technology. Deployment rates are constantly going up because people see others using it. Marketing the new checkout method in the store and promoting it is key to the success of the technology.
What are the benefits of shopreme’s solution? How much do you focus on user experience?
One of the key elements for us has always been: how can we make the experience as simple as possible for the customer. The customers need to be guided through the entire process. It needs to be very easy to understand yet complex enough to give them benefits like loyalty programs or recommendations. However, the complexity should not be visible to the customer; the experience should feel natural.
We have the luxury of having started with a large retail chain in Austria as our first customer, enabling us to grow our solution and learn from that environment. We created a straightforward user journey and enabled retailers to easily integrate shopreme Scan & Go into their operations.
On the one side, we offer native white label iOS and Android solutions. If you don’t have your own app as a retailer, we can provide you with a complete app styled to your brand. We can bring in specific features that you need, like connecting your loyalty system and recommendations while, thanks to our Datahub, keeping integration effort as low as possible.
Then we have our SDK (Software Development Kit) for retailers who have their own customer app. For example, when we worked with ROSSMANN, one of the largest drug store chains in Europe, we found that nine out of 10 customers already had the ROSSMANN app installed. That’s a huge benefit because if the app is already installed on your phone, you’re just one tap away from starting the scan and go process.
We also have a white label web application that runs entirely in the mobile browser. Consumers simply scan a QR code that opens a link in the mobile browser and starts the scan and go journey. The customer doesn’t have to install anything. It all happens in the mobile browser.
A new addition to our solutions portfolio is that our shopreme application also runs on handheld scanner devices that you see in a lot of retail stores. This allows retailers to cater to customers who feel more comfortable using a handheld scanner, while also providing the mobile app for customers who prefer using their own device.
Does the way you think about the customer journey change depending on the type of retail?
We do a lot of user testing and ask consumers to answer questionnaires about the customer experience and how they felt about the process. This helps us to identify the best processes for different types of shops. This is an important part of our reiteration process because there can be significant differences between segments.
For example, a cosmetics store where you might spend 100EUR on cologne and a grocery store where you pop in on your lunch break for a bite to eat have very different customer profiles, requiring different shopping experiences. It’s vital, therefore, to work with the retailer to tailor and finetune that experience.
What are the biggest barriers you see for scan and go checkout technology?
It’s getting customers to use the technology for the first time. We usually work with retailers to run promotions for scan and go. What we typically see is that customers are in a hurry, and they don’t want to take the time to set something up on their phone. They will often go home and install it to have it ready next time, but they don’t want to do it right there and then.
That’s where the web application, or the existing retailer app that they know and trust, comes in. This is a huge benefit for adoption.
We also see that consumers are still hesitant to just walk out of the store after paying on their mobile. This is why we work with the retailer to make the checkout experience as smooth as possible. We want it to be easy for customers to understand that they did everything right and can just leave.
Sometimes we do this via a simple QR code that can be scanned to generate a message saying they can leave. We also have a solution called shopreme vector, which is a terminal where you, as the consumer, scan your invoice code, and it tells you whether you can leave or have been selected for a spot check.
When selected for a spot check, an employee will verify your purchases before you can leave the store. If you haven’t been selected, then you are free to just leave the store. This physical interaction really helps people trust that they did everything right. I think this will change in the future when people become more familiar with this way of shopping.
What is different about shopreme compared to other scan and go solution providers?
At shopreme, we ask ourselves, ‘how can we make this a better experience?’ every day, and I think that shows.
We are the only provider offering an SDK, native apps, and a web app. Our solution also runs on handheld scanner devices. We have the technology to support low-frequency stores where consumers aren’t visiting every two days and may not want to download an app specifically for scan and go. For example, Munich airport uses our web application solution. And we also have the technology to support stores with high rates of return visits.
We make it easy to add functionality as you go. You can start with a very simple scan and go process that supports your existing processes; we can tie into your existing cash desks so customers can still pay with cash if they want at the regular till.
We also work with some fantastic mobile payment partners around the world with very secure solutions. Another big differentiator is that we don’t have a platform model. There are platform players in this market that want to own the customer and promote their own app.
We have a white label solution. For us, it’s all about the retailer’s brand. shopreme is never seen by the customer.
What use cases have shopreme worked on recently?
We have just launched a scan and go project with Auchan starting in Romania. This includes our new shopreme vector solution. Scan and go customers go into a separate lane when they want to check out, pay in the app, scan their invoice code at the terminal, and then either leave or be subject to a quick spot check before leaving.
We’re really making people aware of scan and go throughout the whole store. It’s a great advertisement for the technology while in the store.
Do you see scan and go working in small format or pop-up spaces?
At the moment, we have a clear enterprise and medium-sized focus. But one of our first projects was actually with a pop-up store.
We created a mobile app for them that offered scan and go and mobile payment. Consumers could also scan a product to access videos and other information. The scan and go app was an integral part of the experience.
So yes, I really believe there is an opportunity in this.
What new functionality or updates are you looking at?
We are launching a shared basket feature that builds on our shared shopping list, letting you share a list with friends, a partner, or your work colleagues. As you separately tick things off the list, our app removes them from everyone’s list.
The shared basket feature combines these items on a single invoice, even if you’re scanning them on different devices. So if you’re doing the family shop and you split up and the kids go to get some items and your partner gets some, they will all be added to a single basket and invoice at the end.
What is your take on where scan and go and autonomous retail technology is headed?
We very much believe that brick and mortar retail will continue to be an important factor in the future. It will be all about the experience – you have your 10–15-minute deliveries, online shopping, and other channels that make it attractive for consumers to stay home and just get something delivered. But we believe in the experience in the store, and that will remain.
We think scan and go offers retailers a great way of bringing a fantastic experience into a store without high CapEx for hardware or technology. Fully autonomous retail like the Amazon Go concept costs millions of euros, which is unaffordable for many small to medium retailers.
I think these spaces offer a great experience, but another advantage of scan and go is that you can reach your customer at home. The consumer can sit at home and create a shopping list, get some recommended items or automatically add ingredients for specific recipes. Scan and go is really moving in the direction of connecting the experience at home with the experience in the store.
Visit www.shopreme.com to learn more about shopreme Scan & Go or schedule a personal demo. Join shopreme at Shoptalk Europe in London from June 6-8 for the opportunity to try the Scan & Go apps and exit hardware yourself.