Kroger has been expanding its omnichannel offerings as it seeks to remain competitive in a crowded market. With its Scan, Bag, Go, for example, Kroger allows shoppers to use their smartphones to select items while they shop. When they’re finished picking out their selections, customers scan their phones at a checkout station, which digitally submits their payment, and exit.
The idea is that such options are good for business: “Households that engage in our seamless offerings, engaging digitally and with our physical stores, spend more per week than households that do not,” Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen told investors in November. But Kroger is hardly the only grocer rolling out self-checkout options, and consumers are taking note.
As of Q2 2018, 95 percent of American consumers had encountered at least one form of self-service retail, and 49 percent used them on a weekly basis at the supermarket, according to the PYMNTS Self-Service Kiosk Report. Here is how retailers from grocers to restaurants and coffee shops are rolling out self-service technology – and where such innovations are headed in the future.
Almost three quarters — or 71 percent — of consumers have used self-checkout in supermarkets. Meijer, for example, is gearing up to launch a self-scanning mobile app in the Chicago area, but shoppers will still have the option of a traditional checkout experience, The Chicago Tribune reported. As Meijer Spokesman Frank Guglielmi said, “We want our shoppers to shop the store the way they want.” Through the self-scanning mobile app, consumers can scan their purchases throughout the store as they shop. When it comes time to check out, consumers put their phone up to a self-checkout register at a dedicated counter before leaving the store.
One third — or 33 percent — of consumers have used self-checkout in non-grocers. Dollar General’s new mobile app, for example, allows shoppers to use their smartphones to purchase items in the store. According to news from Chain Store Age, the discount chain’s DG Go! app allows customers to use their phones to scan items as they shop and check out directly through the app. Released in May, the app is available in Apple’s App Store and on Google Play. After downloading the app, shoppers simply scan the items they want. Digital coupons are automatically applied directly in the app, and shoppers will also receive savings alerts as they shop. The app is currently being tested in 10 stores in Nashville, with plans to eventually expand the service to another 100 stores, Dollar General CEO Todd Vasos said during an earnings call in May.
Twenty-four percent of consumers have used mobile order-ahead for quick-service restaurants (QSRs). Philz Coffee, for example, made getting the perfect cup of joe easier with the launch of a new order-ahead mobile app. According to reports, when consumers open the app, they will see a carousel of coffee options to order ahead, including their most recent order and some of the chain’s most popular coffee choices. Orders can be customized just as they would in the store, and there is even a picture of the barista working on the coffee.
Ten percent of consumers have used self-service stores. Amazon’s first foray into the convenience store market, Amazon Go, launched in January at its headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Upon entering the Amazon Go store, customers can choose from pre-made salads, sandwiches, snacks and meals, as wells as beer, wine and other beverages. Shelves are also stocked with produce, meat and Amazon meal kits. To reach new brick-and-mortar customers, Amazon is including such high-tech conveniences as speedy checkout, which eliminates the need to wait in lines to pay upon exiting. While Amazon Go doesn’t need cashiers, there are employees who perform such tasks as checking IDs for alcohol purchases and preparing food in the store’s kitchen.
And about just as many — 14 percent — of consumers have used kiosks to check or order products. With the addition of kiosks, McDonald’s is turning its eye to customer experience and choice. It will be adding these self-service stations at a rate of 1,000 U.S. stores per quarter for the next eight to nine quarters, according to CNBC. “We’re trying to add more choice and variety,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said. “Two years ago, if you were a customer, there were two ways you can get served at McDonald’s. You walk to the front counter and line up and take your drink and find a table or you go through the drive-thru. We’re introducing many options. They can order through mobile, they can come curbside and we’ll run it out, as well as the existing traditional ways. You can pay in different ways and customize your food in different ways.”
With 400 stores slated to go live in 2018 with Scan, Bag, Go technology, Kroger’s offerings may introduce even more customers to self-checkout. Will other grocers expand their self-checkout offerings as well? Stay tuned.