H-E-B puts mobile scan and go tech in customers’ hands
Regional grocery powerhouse H-E-B is the latest to try to tackle the challenge of long lines at the checkout by putting a tech solution in the hands of its customers.
The San Antonio-based retailer has launched a mobile scan and go solution called H-E-B Go in seven stores in the Austin, TX area, according to CBS Austin. To use the technology, shoppers download and install the app on their smartphones. While shopping, users scan each item with their smartphone and bag as they go. At the end of the shopping trip, customers scan an app-generated QR code at a kiosk and walk out. The chain plans to roll out the technology more broadly in 2019.
A few major retailers have piloted different variations on scan and go technology over the years with varying degrees of success. With Walmart’s most recent attempt, for instance, visitors would scan and bag as they shopped and then show an associate their on-phone receipt on the way out. The chain nixed the project, however, after finding that customers would rather have cashiers do the work of scanning groceries. Customers also reported finding Walmart’s scan and go app difficult to use.
And, of course, the Just Walk Out (JWO) technology pioneered by Amazon, which allows shoppers to simply pick up products, leave the store with them and be automatically charged, has the retail world wondering if it stands to fundamentally change how people shop physical retail. Competitors like Zippin have also emerged to offer turnkey JWO solutions that purport to address weak spots in the Amazon Go infrastructure.
While not purely JWO, H-E-B’s kiosk- and QR-code-based solution bears a resemblance to one of the early and more successful contenders in the cashier-free convenience store space, China’s BingoBox.
But the issues of scale that arise when attempting to deploy such a solution in a full-sized grocery store could pose problems that the c-stores, with much smaller assortments and fewer customers at a given time, don’t experience.
- First look inside new H-E-B technology that lets you skip long checkout lines – CBS Austin
- Walmart drops Scan & Go tech – again – RetailWire
- What would 3,000 Amazon Go stores do to the U.S. retail landscape? – RetailWire
- Will other grocers beat Amazon Go to the punch? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is H-E-B’s QR code-based solution a better bet than the fully automated Amazon Go-style JWO technology? Could H-E-B succeed with scan and go where Walmart has failed, and why?