Have Giant Food and Stop & Shop nailed ‘frictionless’ checkouts?

Photo: Retail Business Services
Oct 18, 2019
George Anderson

Retail Business Services, the technology services arm of Ahold Delhaize USA, has announced that its proprietary ScanIt Mobile frictionless checkout technology is being rolled out to nearly 30 of the grocer’s stores by the end of the year. The tech is being deployed at all of the new Giant Heirloom Markets and select Stop & Shop stores.

Customers using the ScanIt mobile app walk shop the store scanning products they wish to purchase as they go. When finished, customers go through a designated checkout lane where they see a “payment approved” message before exiting the store. Payments are processed through customers’ mobile wallets. The service accepts Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal and Venmo. 

Individuals who prefer may also use handheld ScanIt devices supplied by the store. Here too, they scan products as they move around the store before transferring the information to the mobile app on their phones to check out.

“We’re focused on creating the next generation of grocery retail,” said Paul Scorza, EVP, IT and CIO for Retail Business Services. “A key part of this is developing new technologies that support consumers’ changing preferences for how they want to shop. For consumers who want to skip the checkout line and pay with their smartphones, we’re excited to see the use of our in-store frictionless solution continue to grow.” 

Ahold USA, before its 2016 merger with Delhaize, has tested the technology in its stores going back to 2011. The company is not the only big box store operator looking to use technology to speed shoppers through the checkout process. Sam’s Club began a pilot to test its upgraded Scan & Go technology, which promised to substantially cut the time it takes to scan purchased items, during the spring.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see ScanIt-like technology becoming common at retail in the years ahead? What accounts for the technology’s relatively slow adoption rate up to this point?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"I see a few grocers investing in this type of approach. It offers some interesting possibilities like wayfinding in store and other value adds for both consumer and retailer."
"It’s hard for me to believe this approach won’t be leapfrogged by more accurate technology that will track purchases at the shelf."
"Adoption is relatively slow because -- as it exists today -- this technology creates new frictions just as it removes old ones."

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18 Comments on "Have Giant Food and Stop & Shop nailed ‘frictionless’ checkouts?"

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Oliver Guy

I see a few grocers investing in this type of approach. It offers some interesting possibilities like wayfinding in store and other value add things for both consumer and retailer.

I perceive that adoption is not helped by a couple of factors – 1.) that these apps consume battery capacity (we all suffer from smartphone battery anxiety from time to time); 2.) the awkwardness of using a phone to scan and the risk of dropping it because you could also be pushing a shopping cart/trolley. Contrast in-store “gun-type” scanners that have a simple trigger for scanning to enable easy single-hand use but also the fact that carts/trolleys are often equipped with holders so shoppers have can use two hands to push the cart/trolley.

Rob Gallo

Frictionless checkout is still very much in its infancy. This solution will certainly resonate for some customers, but with other “more frictionless” solutions already operational. I don’t expect this version to become the standard experience. The slow adoption rate is due to the many protocols that are involved when letting the customer drive the transaction. Certain items do not have bar codes, others are sold by weight. Prepared foods still need associate interaction. A routine grocery shopping trip is very complex from a technology standpoint and all of that needs to be accounted for when turning over the checkout process to the customer. Even self-checkout is slower with all of the voice prompts that are not normally utilized in an attended checkout process. All of this will be solved in time and result in something easier than ScanIt.

David Naumann
David Naumann
Vice President, Retail Marketing, enVista
7 months 6 days ago

Until scan-less technology gets perfected and becomes profitable, ScanIt-like technology is the best way to streamline the checkout process. A lot of the slow adoption rate can be attributed to changing customer habits that have been ingrained for many years. There are still a lot of shoppers that prefer not to use self-checkout.

I like the idea of using devices provided by the store, especially for shoppers that are using a shopping list on their phone. That way they don’t have to toggle between their list and the scanning app.

Steve Montgomery

ScanIt or other similar technology will definitely become more common. The question is, will customers adopt it as quickly as retailers expect? The adoption rate will partially be impacted by the age profile of a retailer’s consumers. IMHO younger customers are more willing to take on the effort to scan their items. More senior customers are very happy to have a cashier record their sales. This may be because they grew up with this approach or because of their hesitancy to adopt the technology.

Jeff Sward

Sounds promising. It should be easy for center aisle boxed and canned product with bar codes. It will be interesting to see how the process works in the fresh produce aisle. Select item, bag, weigh, attach bar code, scan — next item. Sounds like it transfers work from cashier at checkout to customer in-store. Is that what the customer wants? It could very well be if avoiding time in line is the goal.

Ron Margulis

It’s hard for me to believe this approach won’t be leapfrogged by more accurate technology that will track purchases at the shelf. I understand this may be a bit harder in fresh areas and with random-weight products, but putting the onus on the customer for checkout seems like a solution that is bound to get only limited buy in.

Jeff Weidauer

The supermarket industry is in a quandary: ScanIt-type technology works, but moves the labor to the shopper and requires trust from the retailer; Go-type technology requires massive investment and isn’t scalable yet. Both require significant investment, and neither solves the problem of random weight or alcohol sales. Maybe we should also be looking at less flashy alternatives to solve this customer pain point while development continues. In any case, it appears that we are still a ways from finding the Goldilocks solution.

Ananda Chakravarty

The scan and go checkout has many flavors but at its core it no longer drives customer excitement or novelty. It’s about performance and execution now. Even the store-provided handhelds – which Giant has been testing for years – haven’t shown great adoption with device maintenance being a common issue. Putting the task back to the customer, the challenge is that the device capabilities of personal devices don’t match the 3-D laser bar code trackers at the register in speed or capability, and cashiers are scanning items all day long compared to consumers in terms of scanning efficiency. There will be pockets of advancement and retailers will continue to test, but mass scale adoption will require something that can match register performance before it happens.

John Karolefski

Assuming the costs are reasonable, ScanIt-like technology may be successful for buying a small number of items. It may even lure shoppers away from self-checkout, which many shoppers don’t use and some detest due to frequent technical issues with scanning.

However, I have a hard time believing ScanIt-like technology will be used by customers with, say, a $200 basket. Shoppers won’t want to do that much scanning and don’t want to bag their groceries, which they feel is the store’s job. Also, who will monitor young teens scanning a six pack and waltzing out of the store?

Might Scanit-technology appeal to tech-savvy Millennials? Let’s imagine a scenario with mom who has a shopping list on her phone in one hand, a scanner in the other hand, and a cranky toddler riding in a basket full of groceries in a stock-up trip. Yeah, that’ll work just fine.

Bill Hanifin

While it is easy to point out the flaws in self-checkout including the use case for ScanIt, something in me wants to root for a solution to be found that really meets the needs of shoppers, while returning an ROI for grocers.

Like some others commenting here, my experience with “traditional” self checkout systems is that they don’t save significant time, require attendee intervention, and can be frustrating. ScanIt is an interesting approach as it allows shoppers to scan as they go, possibly saving time over having to check out all items at the point of exit from the store.

In terms of the functionality, I wonder how ScanIt handles items scanned but later returned to the shelf (have you ever shopped with children?) and the implications for shrinkage.

Herb Sorensen

NO! Stop & Shop’s evolved 2011 Scan & Go tech is NOT revolutionary, but a simple evolution of what never went anywhere with them, nearly 20 years ago! Smartphone scanning is a dead-end, endlessly dreamed by techies, but will likely NEVER play a major role in “FAST-Moving-Consumer-Goods” selling (European for CPG).

Of course the brilliant but technically fraught Amazon Go technology will probably take some time to become relevant in full size supermarkets.

But Amazon Go does NOT involve the shopper scanning items. Scanning is a practice that I surmise Clive Humby of Dunn-Humby would dismiss as “NOT CUSTOMARY” for the shopper. (He is reported to have made this comment on kiosks, but the principle is SOUND.)

Shep Hyken

Is this easier? Is it faster? If so, it’s less friction. Customers need to learn to use the technology, Until then, it’s just for the early adopters. The true convenience will come when you walk into a store, load up your cart and walk out — without the line. (Wait a minute … I think that’s already been done.)

Heidi Sax

Adoption is relatively slow because–as it exists today–this technology creates new frictions just as it removes old ones. You still have to wait in line to verify your purchase. Bugs prevail and apathetic sales associates are called on to fix the problem. You press the wrong key and can’t get back to where you were. Certainly once this is finessed, this will become the norm in retail. But for now, these solutions aren’t frictionless yet.

Ralph Jacobson

After many fits and starts over more than a decade with different pilot programs, I do like the “bones” of this one a lot. In fact, I look forward to seeing my local store offer it as it does seem effective for shoppers.

Liz Crawford

The handheld ScanIt technology works ok; I see about 15% of shoppers using the devices in the store in Westport, CT. The majority of shoppers prefer other methods of checkout.

The app is a step in the right direction. But the previous holdup was getting an uninterrupted WiFi connection. When technology overpromises, then gets glitchy, it is very frustrating. If they have truly solved the connection issue, this could be very interesting. Still, weirdly, some people prefer a human touch.

Paco Underhill

The USA trails Germany and the Nordic countries in grocery checkout tech. Those markets have been driven to build and refine checkout often due to labor issues. Grocery labor in the USA is — by global standards — cheap and easy. I agree with many of the comments below. Checkout may be faster; the act of having to scan everything you buy in the aisle may not save you overall time in-store.

Suresh Chaganti
Suresh Chaganti
Co-Founder and Executive Partner, VectorScient
7 months 3 days ago

It is all about incremental improvements. The number of attendant managed checkout lines may never get to 0, but getting down 20+ lines to 5 is huge win for retailers.

Kevin Merritt

All good points by others about net speed, weighted items, glitches, etc. But the one thing that intrigues me about this is how it can potentially mimic the buying experience they have at home. Some younger users whose primary shopping norm is on their phone/PC may find this concept more appealing in certain situations. Like self-checkout, this tech has its place and that is not for everyone. This concept had no basis in habit 20 years ago. And grocery may not be the best market for it, either. Like all other concepts, we shall see…

"I see a few grocers investing in this type of approach. It offers some interesting possibilities like wayfinding in store and other value adds for both consumer and retailer."
"It’s hard for me to believe this approach won’t be leapfrogged by more accurate technology that will track purchases at the shelf."
"Adoption is relatively slow because -- as it exists today -- this technology creates new frictions just as it removes old ones."

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