Frictionless — meaning to reduce friction or pain points impeding convenience — has infiltrated retail vernacular with a vengeance.
Retailers and technology companies alike have been racing to crack one of the biggest points of friction at retail — the checkout experience — since Amazon Go debuted its first cashierless store in 2016 and announced plans for 3,000 cashierless stores by 2021.
Retailers across channels are coming at the issue of friction from all angles — scan-and-pay via mobile apps, self-checkout kiosks, order ahead, delivery and more.
At Amazon Go, Prime members download an app, enter their payment information and scan the app to enter. Then, overhead cameras and shelf sensors determine what customers buy, allowing them to walk out and receive a receipt moments later on their phones.
Zippin, a San Francisco-based Amazon Go rival, which debuted an automated store in 2018, also uses a mobile app, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and shelf sensors, but it uses fewer ceiling cameras than Amazon. Santa Clara, Calif.-based AiFi introduced NanoStore, which spans 160 square feet and uses fewer cameras and more AI compared to Amazon Go for real-time customer tracking and receipts. Customers at NanoStore swipe a credit card or tap an app to enter, select items and walk out.