Turbocharging Convenience Stores with Frictionless Checkout

The first Amazon Go store in Seattle opened in January 2018 and was the first commercial implementation of frictionless checkout or “Just Walkout Technology” in the U.S. retail market. Customers scan the Amazon Go app on their smartphone at entry, grab items off the shelves in the store and are automatically charged for their purchases as they walk out of the store. No waiting at checkout counters, being rung up, counting cash or swiping a credit card.  This YouTube video of experience at an Amazon Go store is courtesy TechInsider and Joseph Choi.

 

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Linda Lisanti in her article “Should You Embrace Frictionless Checkout?” at Convenience Store News reports that the two biggest complaints from retail customers “are long wait times in line and poor customer service.” Many retailers offer scan-and-go shopping technology which requires customers to scan items using the retailer app on their smartphone as they put them in their cart and pay at checkout. However, Michael Suswal, co-founder and chief operating officer of Standard Cognition suggests that AI- and machine vision-based autonomous checkout technologies are better, making store experience seamless.

The autonomous checkout technology is especially suited to fast-moving retail formats like convenience stores. Customers come in, pick up a few things and quickly go their way. It can increase the frequency and volume of transactions and be a source of competitive advantage for stores. Their smaller store footprints require fewer cameras and sensors and deployment can be quick and efficient in a matter of days.

Convenience store chain Rickers (acquired by Giant Eagle) will introduce Skip, a mobile self-checkout and mobile cloud point of sale which is expected to reduce average checkout time from 60 seconds to zero, and convert frequent fuel purchasers to loyal in-store customers. Stores can repurpose store space to display more product assortments or services, lower labor costs, free employees to answer customer questions which will improve in-store customer experience and profit margins.

How will autonomous checkout technology impact impulse purchases, an important driver of margins? As more retailers adopt, will it be an expected service (instead of augmented service currently) and dilute competitive advantage for retailers? How can retailers use the data generated to optimize their merchandise planning and operations?

Posted in Part 2: Ownership, Strategy Mix, Online, Nontraditional, Technology in Retailing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

You and Your Next Car: A Match Made in Heaven…or an App?

Despite their love for cars, most Americans do not like shopping for a new car, it rates lower than cleaning toilets or going for jury duty!

Cars.com’s service “Matchmaking Experience” is leveraging proprietary machine-learning algorithms to provide personalized recommendations based on the shopper’s lifestyle preferences.

Patty Odell on ChiefMarketer.com reports:

“Users share their feedback on up to 15 different lifestyle preferences at either Cars.com or on its app. Cars.com then delivers up to 20 recommended matches based on user preferences and sentiment analysis. Users then “like” or “don’t like” the recommendations offered. The Matchmaking Experience then delivers the vehicle matches to the users nearest location.”

“A pilot of Matchmaking Experience has shown promising results: a 752 percent increase in profile creation on the site, 87 percent increase in return visitors, 225 percent increase in email leads and two times the number of page views per visitor versus the traditional search experience.”

Skinner Ricketts, Cars.com CMO believes that the car-matching app and online experience and the campaign will differentiate Cars.com from its competitors in the commoditized auto marketplace category. She says, “Cars.com is not brokering transactions—we’re creating relationships between people and dealers and people and cars.”

The data collected from customers through the matching process can be shared upstream with car dealers and manufacturers to fine-tune their marketing efforts and projecting demand for car models, and customization options.

For insightful information on the complexities of the car purchase process, please check out the following infographic “10 Stats About the Overall Car Buying Process” by Fusion 360 for Mike Hale Acura at Visual.ly

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Posted in Part 3: Targeting Customers and Gathering Information, Part 7: Communicating with the Customer, Technology in Retailing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Welcome from Patrali Chatterjee

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I, Patrali Chatterjee, am honored to be the new author of the BermanEvans Retail Blog.  Joel is a prolific blog writer and meticulous in covering market-relevant topics in retail and marketing. He has set a high standard and I hope I can continue the tradition.

 

I will post blog articles in retail and marketing and I am sure you will notice changes in writing style and “voice.” Given my research focus, you may notice a bent towards e-commerce, customer insights and use of analytics in retail strategy. I will add questions to contemplate and discuss in each blog post. Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @DrPChatterjee

 

Thanks to Barry Berman and Joel Evans for inviting me to be a part of this journey. I look forward to connecting with you, our blog readers, starting today.

 

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