Technology is paving the way for fast and frictionless checkouts, enabling convenient shopping experiences for customers and enhancing cart conversions for retailers and merchants.
The Checkout Experience - Last, But Not the Least
A study reveals that approx. 70 percent of shoppers globally add items to their carts online and then abandon their carts prior to checking out. The key reason cited for the ‘change of mind’ was the time-consuming, tedious process of creating an account or the complex process of filling up a detailed form before checkout. The growing customer expectations for superior checkout experiences have resulted in the emergence of ‘express checkout, checkout-free technology, just walk out stores, headless checkout, invisible checkout’. These are multiple names for a common goal where the objective is to offer customers and buyers, prompt, seamless, and convenient checkout experiences either enabled through a 1-click payment confirmation, QR codes, or AI-powered cameras and shelf-sensors.
Growing Demand for Superior CX at Checkout
A study indicates that 33 percent of customers mentioned speed and convenience as the key priorities while shopping. Another research report reveals that
● 33 percent of visitors leave a store without making a purchase if the lines are too long
● 50 percent of shoppers avoid stores with a history of long lines -either due to deep price discounts or multiple offers
● 88 percent of shoppers would prefer a faster retail checkout experience
The above stats indicate that customers expect a truly world-class checkout experience across checkout touchpoints - whether traditional PoS, mobile checkout, website checkout or through the merchant’s mobile app with pre-loaded payment details.
Data Drives Everything
A key benefit that has emerged from the tech deployment during the checkout experience is the availability of customer data. With customers logging into the app and ready access to past buying patterns, the merchants can tap into these real-time insights to offer personalized experiences and customized offers. Data analytics can contribute significantly to building loyalty, better customer engagement, and enhancing conversions.
Tech Innovation at its Peak
The prominent steps in checkout include identification or automatic verification and access to payment details. Experts have recommended the following tech innovations that would reimagine checkout in the future:
● Watermark Encoding: Embedding encrypted barcodes across the complete packaging, enabling seamless mobile checkout.
● Mobile or Portable Point of Sale: This may be facilitated through self-scanning devices or the retailer’s mobile PoS and provides a frictionless checkout.
● RFID: Deployment of electromagnetic waves to ascertain the unique identity of each product.
● Sensor Fusion: Automatically enables shelves to detect when items have been picked from the racks based on proximity. NFC technology helps determine the identity of the buyer and fast-forward payments.
● Computer Vision: This enables computers to recognize real-world objects by using embedded overhead cameras in self-help counters. Experts believe that along with face recognition and GPS, Computer Vision brings powerful competencies to significantly improve the checkout experience.
Speed as a Critical Attribute
Express checkout is where payments are completed in an instant, with a 1-click transaction completion. Invisible checkout finds valuable applications in new-age Pay Later options where the customer onboarding, credit assessment, and credit approval are instantaneously carried out, behind the scenes, through intelligent ML algorithms and data analytics tools that evaluate multiple criteria including past credit history by using alternative data. The key advantage is the prompt checkout due to the elimination of filling up form fields and the automated authentication facilitated via APIs in the backend.
Doing Away with Check-out in the First Place
In 2021, a global supermarket in the UK launched the first of its kind ‘Just walk out’ store offering a check-out-free experience. Under this, the customers can collect their groceries and walk out of the store, without the need to wait in a queue and scan each item before paying the cashier at the billing counter. The mechanism is activated via the superstore app, which is linked to the customer’s payment credentials or bank account. The shoppers scan the app upon entry into the store. Cameras and sensors across the store intelligently detect the items picked and the payment is automatically debited after the customer leaves the store. The capital investment is the CAPEX towards designing the store layout and tech up-gradation. It is expected that this trend would gain traction in the coming days.
Headless checkout simplifies payments for merchants by allowing them to place the payment icon across formats- digital and physical. Say a merchant’s product is advertised in an e-mailer. The customer need not visit the e-store to order and pay for the product. The checkout button is inserted in the email itself and the customer can directly buy the desired product from there itself. In other words, merchants have the flexibility to attach the checkout icons anywhere- digital ads, online content, emailers, or even on social media pages. Further, by scanning the QR codes, customers can access all the product information and pricing details.
Tech as the Key Enabler
As per a recent report, the global retail e-commerce industry is expected to cross $5 trillion in 2022 and further jump to $ 6 trillion by 2024. With online shopping expected to command a sizeable 21.8 percent share of the retail market by 2024, there is ample headroom for further tech innovation at the checkout stage of transactions. Considering all the above aspects, it may be concluded that technology is turning out to be the key catalyst that accelerates digital transformation during checkout.