Checkout software: the shift towards smart retailing

MANUEL ENRICO
04/05/2020
In brief
The evolution of the shopping experience, focused on greater customer’s independence, and the introduction of new technological aspects within the retail environment become a turning point opportunity for the transition from old checkout software and related hardware to a modern and effective system.

Checkout software is an essential tool for the proper functioning of a store, both with a view to reliably control the economic flow and in terms of customer satisfaction. This essential component of retail operations has recently been through some revolutions, such as the introduction of electronic invoicing or the current health emergency related to Covid-19.

Typically, checkout software is linked to a human interaction that includes the presence of an attendant acting as an intermediary between the shopper and the software. This employee also has the function of ensuring the correct behaviour of the shopper towards the retailer, assuming a strong component of trust of the retailer towards his employees.

TODAY’S CHECKOUT SOFTWARE

Conventional checkout software allows the attendant to calculate the exact amount being spent by the customer. To this, are further added the interactions with the loyalty circuit that through an exchange of information with the checkout counters allows to update in real time any customer’s subscription to promotional campaigns and provide access to his bonuses (dedicated discounts, rewards). Finally yet importantly, a checkout software must provide the retailer with an accurate and complete picture of the store’s cash flow.

Such features have so far been interpreted by checkout software in order to interact with an operator as interface between customer and software.New legal requirements, such as electronic invoicing and the transmission of electronic receipts, or the emergence of unexpected events, as for example, the recent COVID-19 outbreak, have an impact on the creation of checkout software, which must therefore be designed to take into account these new retailer’s needs.

SELF-CHECKOUT: THE NEW FRONTIER OF IN-STORE AUTOMATION

The evolution of the shopping experience, focused on greater customer’s independence, and the introduction of new technological aspects within the retail environment become a turning point opportunity for the transition from old checkout software and related hardware to a modern and effective system.The technological evolution has in fact led the old-fashioned checkout software towards a progressively marked obsolescence, whose costs/benefits ratio becomes less and less attractive for retailers.

On first examination, the introduction of advanced customer solutions, such as self-scanning and self-checkout, offer the possibility of evolving the checkout software into a key component of customer-centric retailing, in which both shopper and retailer find greater benefits.

Through the integration with the existing other smart assets in the store, the checkout software can be implemented to reduce the need for human cashiers, prioritising the technology and use of self-checkout counters. Using simple and intuitive software, customers can scan and pay for their purchases independently from the cashier, ensuring a speedy and efficient shopping experience. To that effect, checkout software can be installed into an IT system designed to implement targeted couponing policies through the recognition of specific tags, linked to the customer’s personal devices (such as smartphones or smartwatches) used for e-payments. The evolution of checkout software towards a more autonomous use must be accompanied by the introduction of next-generation hardware, such as touchscreens and sensors capable of providing a high-level customer journey. The software will have to be able to process new types of data faster, entering into a digital environment that accompanies the customer in each aspect of his shopping experience.

WHY UPDATING THE CHECKOUT SOFTWARE IS IMPORTANT

While only 33% of retailers perceive long queues at the checkout as one of the major concerns in the store, the sample of shoppers who consider it such is 60% (source: Capgemini Research Institute, Automation in Retail Stores Research, Executive Survey, October 2019).Brands that leverage data and technologies to create personalised experiences for their customers are seeing revenue increase by 6% to 10%, two to three times faster than those that do not (source: Profiting from Personalization, BCG – Via: Microsoft). A trend that cannot be overlooked, but rather used as a spur for a radical change in the perception of the store.

Such an evolution does not only result in a better customer appreciation, but also in an interesting opportunity for the retailer in terms of costs and better use of the store’s human resources. Self-checkout software requires a minimum presence of store attendants, called to intervene in case of technical difficulties or in support of the customer needs.This translates into an optimised use of the resources previously assigned to checkout counters, which may be allocated to other activities aimed at improving the shopping experience.

The adoption of a self-checkout solution can make the difference under certain conditions, such as the recent social distancing restrictions introduced as measures for keeping COVID-19 in check. By limiting the interaction between the customer and staff, a highly computerised checkout system represents an added value to a particularly sensitive customer, increasing his satisfaction and consequent loyalty.

The evolution towards a self-checkout software is a necessity, dictated by not only technological developments and their new applications, but above all by the demands of a category of customers increasingly aware of the importance of constant and greater autonomy. Meeting the customer’s needs is today an added bonus that also pays the retailer in terms of economic and operational efficiencies.

A mission that requires immediate response with dynamic checkout software capable of interpreting the store’s evolution. Inspired by this principle, Retex has developed MyTrade, a proprietary technology designed as the ideal tool to accompany and facilitate the retailer in offering the customer an experience capable of meeting his needs and expectations. The flexibility and adaptability of MyTrade, with numerous applications on the market, are such that it can be applied to a wide range of different operational contexts, presenting itself as the turnkey solution for the transition from the old checkout counter to leading-edge management technology.

Customer engagement and retention in fashion? A matter of... omnicanality

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