SpartanNash launched a “scan and go” app at two Family Fare stores in Michigan with more on the way, the company announced this week. Customers download the app Check Out Now to scan product codes while they shop, weigh produce using digital scales, bag as they go and check out at standalone kiosks. The retailer will continue to add Check Out Now to additional stores throughout 2019.
The app shows a running total and features app-only coupons, clubs, rewards and fuel savings connected to its Yes loyalty program, the company reported. Family Fare offers digital ordering for home delivery or curbside pickup through its Fast Lane app.
The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based grocery and wholesale company joins a budding list of retailers scaling and evaluating skip-the-line technology. Kroger planned to roll out its “Scan, Bag, Go” app at 400 stores by the end of this year, but Walmart gave up on its Mobile Express test after only four months.
Walmart dropped its Scan & Go app at its supercenters and other branded stores several months ago but has kept the technology at its Sam's Club locations. The retailer has not elaborated on why the skip-checkout app is working at the buy-in-bulk stores, though it may be customers found weighing and scanning the many items that go into a grocery trip — including produce — cumbersome and just didn't want to do work while browsing.
Walmart switched its focus to mobile cashiers, who complete the checkout process for customers wherever they are in the store. The retailer has tested this technology in its garden centers and rolled it out store-wide during this holiday season. The handheld cash register model is already prevalent in clothing retail, though convenience stores such as Wawa have adopted them, too.
Kroger and SpartanNash must see some sort of golden future in “scan and go,” even though customer enthusiasm lags behind the more sophisticated “Just Walk Out” technology at Amazon Go stores. There, Amazon uses computer vision to detect an item’s removal from the shelf and tally it in the customer’s Amazon account attached to a credit card. The app version of no-checkout retail experiences lacks this gate-keeping agent, which begs the question that Walmart must have asked: Is this tech worth the hassle?
For companies not named Amazon, these apps provide a logical next step after self-checkout kiosks, which have enjoyed record growth in the past two years. Shipments of the kiosks jumped 67% worldwide from 2016 to 2017 and 155% in the U.S, found research firm RBR. Retailers staff “hosts” who steer customers waiting in line toward the kiosks, with some pushing 60 to 70% of their customers away from traditional cashiers.
Self-checkout and now scan-and-go models are a way for grocers to appeal to a wide and evolving range of convenience demands from shoppers. For many shoppers, the technology too much of a disruption of longstanding habits; for others, it's exciting. The trick for retailers is being able to have both options without one disrupting the other. Adcanced cash register tech has already run into legal trouble with ADA compliance, with complaints that these systems don’t do enough to accommodate the needs of blind or disabled customers.
Apps including Family Fare’s Check Out Now will probably do more to boost digital ordering for delivery and curbside pickup, where busy families might take advantage of the click-and-collect offer. Online delivery only accounts for 2% to 4% of total grocery stores today, but estimates peg sales to reach 20% by 2025.