Keeping consumers and staff safe during the pandemic may be paramount but it doesn’t need to be complicated.
There is already an everyday tool that can make shopping both contactless and more convenient.
That tool is the smartphone – something almost every shopper owns. Below we’ll outline a fast way retailers can best enable consumer smart devices to both help their owners in-store and keep them safe.
Consumers use smartphones to reduce contact
Pre-pandemic smartphone usage in-store had already diversified. By the beginning of 2019, even the use of mobile wallets had reached critical mass in terms of take-up. Now paying via a mobile phone has gone into the mainstream. To highlight this, in Q1 2020 MasterCard reported a 25% increase in contactless payments.
The importance consumers are placing on reducing contact in-store was outlined in our guide ‘Going Contactless – Connecting with Shoppers in a Post-Covid World’. Stores – both in grocery and general retail – are focusing on these needs.
Over the last year, especially among the grocers, many major retailers have been building on their mobile offerings.
It might sound counterintuitive to add an interface between the store and the shopper. Yet utilizing mobile makes the shopping experience more intimate. Most people use smartphones continually throughout the day – they are an extension of themselves.
Underlining this, Miya Knights Global Technology Research Director at Planet Retail spoke at NRF Chapter One about utilizing smartphones. She described smartphones as an “intuitive gateway” between online and brick and mortar stores.
“The main thing is [retailers] have to work harder to integrate digital offerings into physical stores. There I’ve always advised retailers to focus, to use mobile to provide that intuitive gateway and content feature-rich customer experiences that can take advantage of the place and space.”
Miya Knights, Planet Retail.
Mobile self-scanning is the best place to start
There are many ways customer smartphones can be interactively used in-store, with extensions such as augmented reality. For example, Scandit’s own Barcode Scanner SDK can be equipped with AR to enable customer use cases like Product Information Lookup, Personalised Coupons, and Search and Find.
But when it comes to bringing in mobile applications, many stores are choosing self-scanning as a good way to introduce customers to the concept of shopping in-store with their mobile phones. Doing so, not only makes for a safer shopping experience but allows customers to make more informed decisions about how they shop.
Speaking about self-scanning in UK trade title The Grocer, Sainsbury’s head of digital product Michele Swaine said: “Now [consumers] can track spend as they’re going, they’re saying ‘I can take that extra one or nicer one’. They can manage their budget and therefore spend up.”
Self-scanning brand examples
An example of this is Globus CZ, which grew its self-scanning app by 570% in a matter of months. And Coop Denmark, which introduced self-scanning when it added Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK to its loyalty application in 2019.
Coop Denmark head of products (payment and Scan & Pay) Lotte Lund Larsen said: “We have a loyalty program – Coop App. It’s not just an app it’s a whole platform, and a very important feature is our Scan and Pay feature.
“So the customers can go in the store, scan the products they want themselves, pay and go out without standing in line or interacting with store employees.”
Although a number of these projects were piloted in 2019, the pandemic led to them being ramped up throughout the store’s chains. What changed was that retailers and customers were focusing on safety as well as convenience.
But there is no doubt the move towards self-scanning has been brought about by the pandemic. In the video below from our recent self-scanning webinar series, Scandit co-founder Christian Floerkemeier spoke about the sudden uplift in self-scanning during the lockdown.
Store operations and IT
Contactless shopping is keeping staff safe as well as consumers. The customer will touch the products they are looking to buy. The store associate at the checkout will potentially touch all of them – thus increasing their chances of infection.
Allowing customers to shop via self-scanning on their smartphones, reduces the interaction between staff and customers on the checkouts. And with limits to numbers of people allowed in-store, it means these valuable staff members can be freed up for other tasks.
Shrinkage has been a retailer concern with self-scanning. However, this has been largely mitigated by the restrictions on store numbers and changes to aisle flow. The pandemic is forcing retailers to find ways around it.
Walmart deployed ‘Scan & Go’ in Canada using controlled entries and exits to reduce theft. However, the pandemic meant all receipt checks (including self-scanning) are done via plexiglass booths.
Finally, there is another benefit. Mobile self-scanning provides accurate data as people pick up and scan products around the aisles. So retailers can gain a better understanding of shopper journeys, how point of sale material influences purchasing decisions, and how people are generally interacting with the store.
A must-have feature and decision-maker
People use their smartphones for entertainment, to navigate, to track fitness, and even to communicate. So it is only natural that they are comfortable using them to shop in-store.
Right now, self-scanning is the best way to bring this functionality into the store.
Self-scanning on personal smartphones allows people to touch fewer products in-store and reduces the risk of exposure for both staff and customers. It also makes the shop easier, faster, and often results in larger baskets.
Scandit’s barcode scanning technology fits in with this seamlessly. It will fit into your existing application and infrastructure. And it will scan every time.
In 2020, the pandemic pushed self-scanning technology into the wider market. In 2021, it has become a must-have. People will use it as a decision-maker over whether to visit your store or someone else who does offer mobile self-scanning.