It’s been a long day and you’re in a hurry to get home, but you need to pick up a few things for dinner. There’s a big supermarket nearby with a great selection and good prices, but you know by the time you park the car, make it to the rear of the store for your items, and get through the checkout lines, it’s going to take 30 to 45 minutes. There’s a smaller convenience store across the street where you pay more and have less to choose from, but you can be in and out in about five minutes. Which do you choose? Retailers adopting the high-speed retail model are betting you go for the convenience store.
High-speed retail is a retail strategy that seeks to make the shopping experience more convenient and faster for the customer. This model starts with the assumption that your customers are in a hurry and want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, so it seeks out ways of making the shopping experience more enjoyable by getting goods to customers faster and by shortening wait times, whether they be for delivery or checking out at a store.
By now you’ve seen at least one high-speed retail attempt to bring speed and convenience to shopping: the self-checkout. Scanning barcodes looks fast and easy when you watch cashiers do it, but not all customers are adept at it. British retail giant Tesco, working in conjunction with NCR, devised a solution to this problem by developing a scanner that can read any bar code, regardless of how it is oriented to the scanner. This system has the capacity of scanning up to 60 items per minute, greatly reducing the time it takes a customer to check out and shortening checkout lines considerably.
Amazon has upped the ante even higher. On top of bringing high-speed retail to online shopping with one-hour delivery in some markets, it has unveiled an alternative to self-checkout. In its Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle, it has deployed Just Walk Out Shopping technology, so customers can skip the checkout line entirely. Scanners capture the items placed in shopping carts and bill customers’ Amazon accounts automatically. At the moment, retail doesn’t get more high-speed than that, but as the Internet of Things spreads, you’re sure to see even greater advances in high-speed retailing very soon.