Maxima Estonia Creates Innovative Customer Experiences with Self-Scanning
Founded in Lithuania in 1992, Maxima Grupé is currently the largest retailer and employer in the Baltic region after having expanded operations to Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Bulgaria.
In 2020, Maxima Estonia wanted to implement self-scanning shopping in its stores using handheld scanners. However, these plans were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the changes in shopping behavior, the grocery retailer realized there was a safer, faster, cheaper and more convenient way to enhance customers’ shopping experiences by enabling self-scanning on their personal smartphones instead.
An already-existing mobile app was quickly transformed with Scandit Smart Data Capture to deliver a first-class customer experience in all of Maxima’s physical stores, significantly increasing customer lifetime value and offering a true technological edge over its competitors.
I’m constantly challenging Scandit and comparing its speed and usability with those of other solutions on the market. None have come close.
In 2020, aware that its tech-savvy customers demanded modern shopping experiences, Maxima Estonia decided to implement self-scanning shopping via handheld scanners.
A test pilot for one store was consequently kicked off, but it soon became apparent it would be a laborious and months-long process. Additionally, the high costs for software development, hardware acquisition and store redevelopment for a dedicated checkout area — amounting to hundreds of thousands of Euros just for one location — already showed the project would be more expensive than expected.
To make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the initiative to a standstill. In light of new health and safety regulations, handheld scanners would require frequent cleaning, thus rendering them impractical to implement and costly to maintain.
Prompted by an urgent need to serve its customers like never before, Maxima Estonia switched gears and turned its attention to an already-existing mobile app which, until then, merely acted as a digital loyalty card.
By equipping this mobile app with a scanning engine, Maxima Estonia would be able to offer the speed and convenience of self-scanning shopping without sacrificing safety: customers’ personal smartphones would be used as opposed to shared handheld devices. This strategy also meant the project would come at a fraction of the original cost, not to mention with a faster deployment.
Vsevolod Boikov, Director of IT at Maxima Estonia, explains: “We would not invest anything in transforming the store from a redevelopment perspective: no new checkout areas, no floor rebuilding, no extra devices. We just needed to develop the app and the POS integration.”
With this approach, Maxima Estonia set out to enable a safe, fast, convenient and innovative way to shop, essentially transforming a passive tool into a veritable sales channel. Additionally, it would also be reshaping the local market: it would become the first grocery chain in the country to implement mobile self-scanning.
Maxima Estonia first attempted to build this integrated scanner in-house, using the native scanning capabilities offered by smartphone devices. However, internal testing showed that it was difficult to provide a good scanning performance on the thousands of different devices used by Maxima shoppers. In order to save time and resources, Maxima went in search of an external barcode scanning solution.
The Scandit Smart Data Capture platform quickly revealed itself as the ideal choice. Easy to integrate and available on more than 20,000 mobile device types, the Scandit Barcode Scanner SDK offered superior scanning capabilities that did not go unnoticed: “We immediately understood how easy Scandit is to start using, and how fast and well it is working,” said Boikov.
In June 2020, Maxima Estonia launched its mobile self-scanning app in all of its 84 physical stores, with Scandit’s easy-to-follow documentation and API ensuring a seamless implementation. The retailer has since expanded operations to 100 locations, with self-scanning enabled by default in all new store openings.
“Scanning performance in terms of speed, accuracy and the ability to scan at any angle is unbeatable,” said Edvinas Volkas, CEO of Maxima Estonia.
Since the launch, Maxima’s mobile app has been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Out of these, 40,000 are monthly active users, using mobile self-scanning at least once per month. More interestingly, the average basket value (ABV) for these returning customers is at least 50% higher than the ABV of other sales channels, highlighting that shoppers prefer the innovative mobile self-scanning experience.
Customer-centric shopping experiences
Currently, users can scan the barcodes of items and put them directly into their shopping bags as they go around the store and even make use of special phone holders attached to shopping carts for a smooth and convenient experience.
They can also:
- Adjust item quantities
- Access exclusive app rewards and promotions – for example, some promotions get better as the customer’s basket size grows, while other seasonal promotions provide random gifts and discounts to create a gamified experience
- Earn and use loyalty coupons that are automatically applied
- View the real-time total of their basket and loyalty points
- Remove items from their in-app baskets by re-scanning them (an action that diminishes the chances of theft)
- Personalize their mobile self-scanning experience (e.g., always-active screens, beeping sounds)
- Confirm ages using an in-app Smart ID feature to save time and the involvement of store associates at the checkout
- Add gift cards to the app
Customers can finish their shopping using traditional methods, but for faster checkout, dedicated areas are available. Customers scan a unique QR code at the POS, automatically charging their in-app payment method.
Customers can switch payment methods at any time of the process and app users looking to pay with cash can still do so by going to a cashier or self-checkout kiosk. Once the payment is processed, digital (and thus eco-friendly) receipts become available on the app, safely stored in a purchase history section.
A smooth, secure and customer-centric shopping experience from end to end.
Unique customer acquisition techniques
Scandit’s flexibility and top performance on any device also allowed the grocery chain to come up with additional app features to surprise and delight customers — and even attract new ones.
For example, people bring empty bottles at in-store collection points and, in exchange, receive paper vouchers. But paper vouchers were easily lost, damaged and forgotten. So Maxima devised a way for shoppers to simply scan the vouchers using the mobile app, automatically transforming them into loyalty points that can be redeemed in future purchases at Maxima locations.
Customer feedback on turning vouchers into tangible electronic funds was really positive so Maxima decided to maximize this approach. After completing integration with the national lottery house, customers who win on scratch-off lottery tickets can instantly scan it, and their winnings will be transferred to their Maxima account in the form of loyalty points.
More than 30% of shoppers using these features are newly-created accounts, meaning they were either not using the app beforehand or they actually shopped elsewhere.
Continuous innovation with Scandit Smart Data Capture
Maxima Estonia is always taking into account direct customer feedback and thinking about new app features. The team has a “two-year backlog” full of ideas that are being tested using social media and then estimated and prioritized for development. Whatever comes next, Scandit’s technology and enterprise-level support will be there to empower Maxima and its customers.
“I’m constantly challenging Scandit and comparing its speed and usability with those of other solutions on the market. Until now, none have come close,” said Vsevolod Boikov, Director of IT at Maxima Estonia.