Meijer makes checkout even easier

Midwestern retailer Meijer has completed a transformative 15-month initiative to streamline the checkout process at all of its stores.

The company has now introduced Shop & Scan technology at all of its stores across the Midwest.

“As we’ve rolled the program out in six states, the response has been incredibly enthusiastic,” said Stephanie Brackenridge, director of customer experience for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer. “Customers have appreciated the ability to have a choice in shopping how they want, depending on how their day is going. Many are finding the opportunity to personalize their store visit with a cell phone is a great way to save time and help avoid lines.”

Shop & Scan works through an innovative mobile app that allows customers to shop and bag as they go, giving them the opportunity to avoid lines and personalize their shopping depending on their day.

Once they download the free Meijer Mobile App, customers use Shop & Scan  to scan bar codes on items and bag their own groceries. A running total of items purchased is viewable as they shop throughout the store. Once a customer has finished shopping, they simply scan their phone at a self-checkout lane and pay, making the checkout experience quick and easy.

Brackenridge said that the most popular features among Meijer customers included the integrated shopping list, running total, and the ability to clip any available mPerks loyalty program coupons for items scanned.

In addition to Shop & Scan, the retailer offers Meijer Home Delivery and a pickup option at all 246 stores in six states, providing customers multiple ways to shop the retailer’s stores depending on their needs for that day.

Since the original pilot launch last year in Grand Rapids, the Meijer Mobile app has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times, while the initiative has steadily expanded to stores throughout Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky. Once the app was downloaded, more than 80 percent of Meijer customers have repeatedly used Shop & Scan as part of their shopping experience.

Source: progressivegrocer.com

Ahold Delhaize adds digital shelves in European stores

With Europe as its proving ground, there is potential for Ahold Delhaize to bring this technology stateside to its banners where several retailers, from Albertsons to Kroger, are already adopting a variety of digital checkout solutions.

In the U.S., Kroger is leading the charge with digital shelf technology. It installed Kroger Edge, a digital shelf system in partnership with Microsoft, in 200 stores that displays pricing, advertisements and nutritional information. As users walk down the aisles, it also communicates with their smartphones and highlights products that they’ve added to their digital shopping lists in an attempt to provide a customized shopping experience.

Electronic shelf tags offer a number of benefits to retailers, primarily when it comes to flexibility. The shelves can resolve issues with missing tags or prices that haven’t been updated and when it comes to the task of changing price tags, it can save substantial labor power. In lieu of swapping out paper tags or printing new tags, the digital shelf displays can be updated much quicker.

The technology also opens the door to dynamic pricing, which allows for price changes multiple times a day potentially. For example, the price tag could switch depending on demand or availability. Produce and other food items nearing their expiration date could quickly pivot to sell faster. This has been cited by some as a way to help cut down on the amount of food waste produced at supermarkets.

Electronic shelf tags have potential applications for self-checkout as well, allowing customers to avoid waiting in line. Users can scan the shelf tag with their mobile phone, which is also integrated with their preferred payment method. Reducing friction in a self-checkout process is key for consumer adoption, with many customers finding self-checkout services frustrating because they largely are required to take over the entire cashier role. The shelf tags alleviate some of this friction by streamlining the scanning process and preventing the shopper from having to still go through the checkout lane.

Several retailers have already adopted a variety of digital checkout solutions including Albertson’s self-checkout stations and Amazon’s cashierless Amazon Go stores. Giant is also piloting self-checkout technology with its partnership with Silicon Valley’s startup Grabango. The technology uses AI and computer vision to see what customers are picking up as they shop.

Source: grocerydive.com

Amazon may launch a hand recognition payment system for Whole Foods

According to New York PostAmazon is testing inside Whole Foods a payment system codenamed “Orville” that scans human hands to ring up purchases. The e-commerce giant is reportedly using its New York employees as guinea pigs by installing the system on a handful of vending machines selling chips, sodas and phone chargers in its offices.

Unlike most biometric systems that require you to touch the surface of a scanner, Amazon’s take on the technology apparently doesn’t need you to physically touch any device. The company’s technology uses computer vision and depth geometry to identify the size and shape of your hand before charging the credit card you have on file.

Further, you don’t even need to have your phone with you when you shop. That could make shopping at Whole Foods even more seamless than at Amazon Go stores, where you can pick up goods and then leave as long as you check in through a turnstile using a QR code in your app. You need to be a Prime member, however, for hand-based payments to work.

Stephanie Hare, a technology ethics researcher, told the Post that the company probably decided to give customers the option to pay with their hands instead of their face, because it would feel less like a mugshot. She warns, however, that it might not be wise to give a company your biometric data and risk being a data theft victim, especially now that there are “a couple of nation states that are really good at stealing data…”

The Post says Amazon is hoping to roll the technology out to a handful of Whole Foods stores by the beginning of next year. It has no specific locations in mind for the launch, but it’s planning to make the system available at all the supermarket’s US locations. For now, Amazon is apparently refining the technology so it can bump its accuracy up from within one ten-thousandth of 1 percent to a millionth of 1 percent before launch.

Source: engadget.com

Britain’s Tesco tests checkout-free shopping

Britain’s biggest retailer Tesco is trialing a checkout-free method of payment for its convenience stores, allowing customers to scan products on their mobile devices and then walk out with them.

The supermarket group is testing the smartphone app at the Tesco Express convenience store located in the campus of its headquarters at Welwyn Garden City, north of London.

“Using your mobile device you select some products, put them into your basket on your device and then just walk out of the store,” Steven Blair, Tesco’s convenience transformation director told reporters.

“The feedback is very good on it but it’s super early,” said Blair.

U.S. giant Amazon opened a checkout-free grocery store in Seattle to the public in January, moving forward on an experiment that could dramatically alter bricks-and-mortar retail.

The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. Cash registers and checkout lines become superfluous – customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.

Tesco Chief Executive Dave Lewis said although the Welwyn trial was scalable, security implications had to be considered as there was a danger of increased product theft.

“If the margin in the business is 2 or 3 percent, you don’t have to lose much to make it unprofitable,” he said.

The Welwyn store is also cashless, cutting the time spent on customer transactions.

Blair said the store was serving customers at its checkouts in about 45 seconds, versus 90 seconds for a similar sized store in the estate.

He noted that some Tesco convenience stores in Britain were already down to just 20 percent of payments by cash, making a cashless roll-out likely in the future.

 

Source:Reuters

Walmart in Mexico launches grocery orders via WhatsApp

Walmart’s Mexico unit has begun offering grocery delivery from its Superama stores via messaging service WhatsApp, in a new stab at attracting shoppers outside bricks-and-mortar supermarkets.

WhatsApp, the free text-messaging service owned by social media platform Facebook, is ubiquitous throughout Mexico. Superama shoppers can text an order to a WhatsApp number run by Walmart, known in Mexico as Walmart de Mexico.

A Reuters reporter tried the service on Monday, sending a photo of a handwritten grocery list. A company representative responded immediately, punctuating responses with smiley-face and winky-face emojis.

The representative said Superama charges 49 pesos ($2.55) for delivery within 90 minutes, or 39 pesos ($2.03) for a later delivery time, and would accept payment in cash or by card upon delivery.

Superama represents about 92 of Walmart’s 2,459 stores in Mexico, which is the U.S. retailer’s largest overseas market by store count. Superama already takes orders via its website and a Superama app, as well as through Cornershop, a third-party delivery app that sells goods for a variety of other stores.

Walmart’s plan to buy Cornershop, which operates in Mexico and Chile, for $225 million, was blocked earlier this month by Mexico’s competition regulator, which said that Walmart could not guarantee an even playing field for rivals also using the app.

 

Source: Reuters