When Wegmans announced last September that it would no longer allow shoppers to use their smartphone to scan and pay for items in its stores, the company sparked a firestorm on social media among customers disheartened by the loss of convenience they faced as a result of the retailer’s unexpected move.

The East Coast grocery chain blamed unspecified “losses” stemming from the scan-and-pay service for its abrupt about-face on a program the retailer had trumpeted as a way to give people “the ability to shop how they want” when it rolled out the service in 2019. Wegmans suggested it might bring the service back if it could make “make improvements that will meet the needs of our customers and business,” without offering further details.

But while Wegmans concluded that letting shoppers use self-service checkout technology to breeze through stores came at too high a price, a host of other grocers, including Meijer, Hy-Vee, Giant Food and Kowalski’s Markets and Walmart, continue to offer scan-and-go as an option for shoppers looking to avoid traditional checkout lanes. In addition, other food retailers operating in the U.S. are in talks with vendors about potentially adopting the technology, according to industry officials.

One reason for that interest is that many shoppers have become so accustomed to using their phones to shop for groceries online and search for product information that the ability to use the devices to make in-store purchases is a natural next step, said Randy Crimmins, chief strategy officer of Stor.ai, which provides digital engagement technology to regional retailers.

Scan-and-go devices in a Giant Food supermarket in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Sam Silverstein/Grocery Dive


Stor.ai also sees convenience-focused solutions like scan-and-go technology as a way for smaller retailers to stand out against larger competitors, Crimmins added.

“It’s such a fragmented consumer marketplace out there today that you want to make sure that you’re offering everything you can to appeal to your shoppers and make sure that you not only grow your shopper base, but your retained base, because everybody is nipping at you,” Crimmins said.

Crimmins’ company, which was known as Relationshop until several weeks ago, when it purchased the Israeli e-commerce firm whose name the firm now uses, has been working on a scan-and-go system for the past year and is now testing the technology with an unidentified retailer. Stor.ai intends to move ahead with a live deployment of the system later this year, Crimmins said, adding that the company sees scan-and-go technology as a way to reach more shoppers with features that let people access customized nutritional and other information about products.

Nico Müller, chief commercial officer of Shopreme, a scan-and-go technology supplier based in Austria, said his company has also seen interest in the service from U.S. retailers. The company has had conversations with a “large international retailer” that has a substantial presence in the U.S. about rolling out its system, Müller said.

Shopreme has been offering scan-and-go systems since 2016, and the company’s technology is now in operation at about 1,000 stores in Europe. Shopreme’s clients include German supermarket chains Rewe, which began using the company’s scan-and-go system last year, and Penny, which adopted the technology in 2021.

“There are other parts of the experience that are more fun to focus on, but loss prevention is a big topic, of course, and it’s always the first question that is asked when speaking about mobile scan-and-go” with retailers.

Nico Müller

Chief commercial officer, Shopreme

Mining shopping patterns to stop shrink

Even as they promote the benefits of scan-and-go to retailers, Shopreme and Stor.ai are paying close attention to the drawbacks of the technology.

Müller said that while scan-and-go carries the inherent risk that shoppers might inadvertently or willfully neglect to scan items, Shopreme’s system is designed to mitigate the potential for shrink by analyzing shopping patterns to identify people whose activity warrants stopping them for an audit.

The system pays attention to factors such as whether a shopper has used scan-and-go at a given retailer in the past, their shopping history and the items they are purchasing, with a goal of keeping spot checks to a minimum to avoid unnecessarily inconveniencing consumers, according to Müller.

“There are other parts of experience that are more fun to focus on, but loss prevention is a big topic, of course, and it’s always the first question that is asked when speaking about mobile scan-and-go” with retailers, Müller said. “We have an engine that does nothing else than evaluating which customers to select without making it a hassle, because of course we want to have a smooth experience.”

Source link

Share This