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Self-Checkout Is Changing the Retail Landscape

The upsurge of self-checkout and unmanned stores like Amazon Go is freeing consumers from one of the things they detest most: long checkout lines.

Though not mainstream yet, this “just walk out” experience is something many shoppers find fascinating. When Wirecard polled adults worldwide in December 2019 on which retail technologies they would be interested in using, the majority of respondents opted for a cashierless experience. More than seven in 10 said they were interested in using a scan-and-go app that would allow them to purchase products, and 61% were at least somewhat interested in the idea of unmanned stores.

It’s no surprise that long lines are a pain point for many. In an October 2019 survey from Capgemini, the largest share of adults (60%) said they were irritated with long checkout lines—ahead of products being out of stock or not being able to find a store associate to help them.

When asked which aspects of the shopping experience they most value, 83% of internet users polled in January by iVend Retail cited a quick and easy checkout.

Some retailers, including Target and CVS, haven’t fully developed full cashierless stores, but they have tested the waters by incorporating self-service checkouts within their stores, giving shoppers the option to quickly and easily pay for their goods without needing a cashier to ring them up.

Many adults have tried this option. In a December 2019 survey from Bizrate Insights, nearly half (47%) of said they use self-service checkouts regularly; 31% said they have used it before, though not as frequently. Just 2% of respondents didn’t know what self-service checkouts were. Millennials were more likely than older age groups to use self-service checkouts regularly, though a good number of Gen X (46%) and boomer (39%) respondents did as well.

The number of automated cashierless stores will continue to rise and disrupt the retail industry, thanks in large part to Amazon’s push in the space. After launching its first Amazon Go store in Seattle in early 2018, the ecommerce giant has since expanded its offerings to more cities. Last week, Amazon debuted an unmanned grocery store, which in addition to a larger footprint—10,300 square feet—also lets consumers walk in and buy a larger assortment of products like fresh groceries and poultry.