By Christian Floerkemeier, CTO & Co-Founder, Scandit
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the need for ‘contactless retail’ – and this is the new reason for grocery retailers to deploy self-scanning services.
Retailers have a safeguarding responsibility to their customers and employees, to help them stay safe by offering contactless shopping options that minimize human interaction.
The simplicity and speed of mobile self-scanning was already being embraced by major supermarket and retail chains and warmly welcomed by shoppers.
Shoppers prefer mobile self-scanning and self-checkout
Self-Scanning with your own smartphone is a choice for customers who want to save time.
A SOTI survey showed that 66% of shoppers preferred mobile self-scanning and self-checkout, with 67% saying retailers that used more mobile technology saved them time.
Get ready for ‘contactless retail’ to maintain distance from others and feel confident about walking into a store; clean and contactless is the focus.
This means customers using their own smartphone to select, learn about and buy products, and employees doing their everyday tasks with a smartphone app.
Faster, easier and frictionless shopping
The promise of faster, easier and “frictionless shopping” in stores motivated numerous high street chains to invest in self-scanning in recent years – 7-Eleven, Ahold Delhaize, Albert Heijn and Coop Denmark to name a few.
Worldwide, the self-checkout market was forecast to surpass $4 billion dollars by 2024, according to Global Market Insights. Post COVID-19, that forecast will undoubtedly rise.
With the right high-performance computer vision software, any camera-equipped smart device can be transformed into a powerful barcode scanner. Retailers use the technology to let shoppers scan barcodes using their own smartphones – and then either pay for goods at a self-checkout kiosk or pay through the app.
24×7 cashierless stores that mimic the Amazon Go concept, are made possible with the same self-scanning mobile app approach.
Swiss trading company Valora is a good example – the shopper registers ID on the app to subscribe, gain entry and shop with self-scanning. In this case, to facilitate the registration, the scanning software needs also to perform text recognition (OCR) and ID verification as well as barcode scanning.
Cut waiting, increase space, protect revenues
Since COVID-19, retailers are looking for ways to reduce the waiting time that we’re all now experiencing just to get into stores. These queues/lines clearly result in lost revenue either from customers going elsewhere or from the lower throughput of customers in stores.
So the goal is to create more space and reduce the amount of time each customer spends in-store each shopping trip. Self-scanning shopping is an obvious tool that can help, as the retailer will benefit from the speed of shopping as much as the customer enjoys it.
But traditional bespoke scanners pose an obvious hygiene risk for shoppers, and an extra burden for retailers to manage adequate cleaning between use. As a result, some retailers have suspended their use.
Driven by the new demand for clean and contactless shopping, we’re being asked to help retailers bring forward existing plans and accelerate rollouts for self-scanning and mobile apps using barcode scanning software.
Since COVID-19, some of our existing customers are seeing a doubling in the number of in-store transactions going through self-scanning services that run on customers’ own smartphones.
Retain and win more customers
Self-scanning was and still is a powerful way to increase customer engagement. In this way, Danish retailer Coop Denmark used its self-scanning app to good effect.
The app offers all the main benefits of self-scanning. Additionally, the store also uses data capture to keep customers engaged with personalized offers, promotions and discounts.
As a result, Coop Denmark achieved 1.6 million app downloads with around 250,000 people using it on a daily basis for an average of four minutes.
In an increasingly data-driven industry, self-scanning is also a valuable source of customer behaviour data for analysis.
Tracking app usage alongside regular store KPIs is a good way of assessing performance in a number of areas: store footfall, check-out wait times, buying patterns, basket sizes, revenue, costs and customer satisfaction can all be captured and measured.
Expert advice is needed to achieve a successful deployment of self-scanning. As with any customer service, user experience is the key.
An obvious crucial factor is the performance of the scanning software – it must work first time, every time on any mobile device model your customers are using.
Brick-and-mortar retailers will have to accelerate their digital transformations to compete with online shopping and meet the new demands for safety.
Ultimately, the need to blend the physical and digital worlds remains stronger than ever in our new contactless society.