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Guest Column: The Frictionless Checkout Emerges

Frictionless checkout continues to be one of the hottest emerging concepts in the industry, as retailers strive to deliver a fast and seamless payments experience.

From mobile POS to “scan-and-go” capabilities, there are several emerging technologies that are making frictionless checkout a reality. If retailers want to increase customer satisfaction and keep a competitive edge, it’s important they become familiar with the innovative solutions readily available today. But before they decide on a frictionless checkout solution, retailers should familiarize themselves with some of the latest innovations in checkout.

Mobile POS for the mobile generation
Mobile POS allows retailers to take the checkout process anywhere in the store. This technology is essential to reducing checkout lines or queue-busting entirely, as we all know no one likes to wait in a line, especially a long one. The location-agnostic aspect of mobile POS adds efficiency for large or do-it-yourself stores, as shoppers can complete a transaction wherever they are instead of having to walk to a different department. For example, shoppers buying items for their garden can pay the outside staff as it’s loaded into their car, instead of having to walk back inside to find a stationary POS.

The best part of mobile POS devices is the impact on customer service. For example, an employee free from standard checkout processes can be available to help a customer searching for a new lipstick. The employee can then upsell a complimentary eyeshadow or nail polish – increasing basket sizes and conversion rates – and process the transaction in the aisle or at the counter.

The birth of scan-and-go
The natural extension of mobile POS is the aforementioned scan-and-go technology starting to grab headlines. But scan-and-go is still a developing concept, with retailers working on ways to optimize a process that promises the elimination of checkout lines altogether, but also requires a massive infrastructure investment to deploy.

Before the technology can break into the mainstream, it needs to expand beyond its current limitations. Part of the problem so far is that scan-and-go is not compatible with other technology in stores, so the process is often broken and not user-friendly, and limited to small-basket trips.

Take, for example, produce. When a shopper is trying to buy apples with scan and go technology, they must remember the PLU code to enter it on the scale, then print a label, place it on the produce or bag, and then scan it. Eventually, stores might adopt cameras that can identify products without the need of a barcode, but until the full store infrastructure can support this – including loyalty programs, discounting and loss prevention – small format and convenience applications will be the lone domain for this innovation.

Reshape your checkout with the right approach
With changes occurring in the retail technology industry daily, it’s foolhardy to make assumptions about which frictionless technologies will be fads and which ones will stick around for years to come. To avoid making an investment in an inefficient or incomplete solution, retailers should evaluate a few key questions:

1. Is the solution future-proof?
As mentioned above, it’s nearly impossible to guess where technology will go and how it will change over the coming years. That’s why retailers need to make sure their mobile POS investment is future-proofed. It should be easy to update, and should have seamless integration with all current and upcoming technology. Regardless of what solutions are implemented, all checkout options should have sound POS logic built on innovative software.

2. Does the solution improve your omnichannel experience?
When choosing the right solution, retailers should take into consideration its omnichannel capabilities. If total integration throughout all of your store’s systems isn’t an option, retailers (and their customers) will inevitably have to deal with more friction. With BOPIS, mobile-app integration and personalization all on the rise, it’s no wonder 67% of retailers said omnichannel is a priority in a recent study.

3. Will the solution help or hurt your overall customer experience?
Above everything, your mobile POS strategy needs to improve the overall customer experience. If the experience is clunky, retailers will just create needless friction for their customers. But done right, employee efficiency will increase and customer satisfaction will rise once the retailer makes the transition.

As we enter a new era of omnichannel customer engagement that thrives on convenience and usability, frictionless checkout is poised to play a major role – but only if done right.

Michael Jaszczyk is CEO of GK Software USA.
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