Friday , October 19, 2018

Smart Checkout Is Advancing, But Getting Rid of the Checkout Will Take a While

Ever since ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft came along, processors and merchants have been captivated by the idea of running transactions entirely in the background, without any checkout. That concept will emerge over time, but in different forms and not necessarily with checkout-less experiences, according to research released Tuesday.

So-called smart checkouts and checkout apps will account for more than $78 billion in annual payment volume worldwide by 2022, forecasts Juniper Research, a firm based in the United Kingdom. Even so, the slow development and deployment of the technology means that, even five years from now, no more than 3,000 retail locations will be equipped for smart checkout, Juniper says.

No checkout: Buying groceries at the Amazon Go store. (Image credit: Inc.)

The research looks at two forms of smart checkout. In one form, shoppers are identified as they enter the store, while sensors register the goods they select and charge them to their account. They then exit the store without any traditional checkout. This is the concept best known through news about Inc.’s experimental Amazon Go store in Seattle.

Much of this technology, however, is still in very early development, making it hard for merchants to figure a return on investment. “These elements are enabled through a variety of sensor and image-recognition technologies, and are the most immature of retail technology segments,” Juniper says in a white paper summarizing its research. “As a result, most of these technologies are currently only in trial stages, with minimal presence in the retail environment.”

In the other form, shoppers use a checkout app to scan merchandise barcodes as they pick up items in the aisle. The total is then charged to an account in the background or forwarded to a cashier. The latter option has the advantage for the store of allowing human cashiers to check for items “not on the uploaded purchase list, forming a check on theft,” Juniper says in the white paper.

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